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Social learning and social cognitive theory[edit]

According to the social learning theory[3] (more recently expanded as social cognitive theory[4]), behavioural change is determined by environmental, personal, and behavioural elements. Each factor affects each of the others. For example, in congruence with the principles of self-efficacy, an individual’s thoughts affect their behaviour and an individual’s characteristics elicit certain responses from the social environment. Likewise, an individual’s environment affects the development of personal characteristics as well as the person’s behavior, and an individual’s behaviour may change their environment as well as the way the individual thinks or feels. Social learning theory focuses on the reciprocal interactions between these factors, which are hypothesised to determine behavioral change.

Theory of reasoned action[edit]

The theory of reasoned action[5][6] assumes that individuals consider a behaviour’s consequences before performing the particular behaviour. As a result, intention is an important factor in determining behaviour and behavioural change. According to Icek Ajzen, intentions develop from an individual’s perception of a behaviour as positive or negative together with the individual’s impression of the way their society perceives the same behaviour. Thus, personal attitude and social pressure shape intention, which is essential to performance of a behaviour and consequently behavioural change.

Theory of planned behaviour[edit]

In 1985, Ajzen expanded upon the theory of reasoned action, formulating the theory of planned behaviour,[7] which also emphasises the role of intention in behaviour performance but is intended to cover cases in which a person is not in control of all factors affecting the actual performance of a behaviour. As a result, the new theory states that the incidence of actual behaviour performance is proportional to the amount of control an individual possesses over the behaviour and the strength of the individual’s intention in performing the behaviour. In his article, Further hypothesises that self-efficacy is important in determining the strength of the individual’s intention to perform a behaviour. In 2010, Fishbein and Ajzen introduced the reasoned action approach, the successor of the theory of planned behaviour.

Transtheoretical or stages of change model[edit]

According to the transtheoretical model[8][9] of behavior change, also known as the stages of change model, states that there are five stages towards behavior change. The five stages, between which individuals may transition before achieving complete change, are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation for action, action, and maintenance. At the precontemplation stage, an individual may or may not be aware of a problem but has no thought of changing their behavior. From precontemplation to contemplation, the individual begins thinking about changing a certain behavior. During preparation, the individual begins his plans for change, and during the action stage the individual begins to exhibit new behavior consistently. An individual finally enters the maintenance stage once they exhibit the new behavior consistently for over six months. A problem faced with the stages of change model is that it is very easy for a person to enter the maintenance stage and then fall back into earlier stages. Factors that contribute to this decline include external factors such as weather or seasonal changes, and/or personal issues a person is dealing with.