Understanding Belief, Attitude, and Behavior

How to Use Fishbein and Ajzen’s Theories in Evaluation and Educational Research

Brandt W. Pryor, Educational Research Associates

Published 2022

This book is a step-by-step guide for correctly applying Fishbein and Ajzen’s theories which together form “ . . the dominant conceptual framework for predicting, explaining, and changing human social behavior” (Ajzen, 2012). Evaluators and educational researchers, however, have often made less than optimal use of the theory of reasoned action, and the later theory of planned behavior, to understand, measure, and influence beliefs, attitudes, and behavior.

This book is written expressly for investigators who are not trained in attitude theory and measurement. It provides examples from the fields of evaluation and educational research at each step, including many from the author’s applications. This book offers clear conceptual and operational definitions of belief, attitude, behavior, and other variables that are components of the theories. Figures illustrate relations among the variables. One chapter critically reviews efforts to apply the theories in evaluation and educational research, using positive and negative examples.

The author has 30 years’ experience in evaluation and research, a doctorate in education, and training in attitude theory and measurement with Martin Fishbein. The author’s dissertation study was the first successful application of the theory of reasoned action to the issue of participation in adult education, and prompted others in that field to apply the theory.

Praise for Understanding Beliefs, Attitude, and Behavior:

"This book is invaluable for anyone interested in understanding, evaluating, and changing behaviors I in education. It presents the theories of reasoned action and planned behavior in clear and precise terms. It provides educational researchers and evaluators with the tools they need to pursue an understanding and assessment of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors."
David Fetterman, President and CEO
Fetterman & Associates
San Jose, CA

"Although student and teacher attitudes are an area of intensive study in STEM and other educational fields, many studies lack a rigorous theoretical approach. Pryor's new book offers a lucid account of the theory of reasoned action and its application to studies of attitudes, intentions, and behaviors in educational settings. The ideas have transformed my own approach to studying the impact of our STEM interventions on pre-service teacher attitudes and their future intentions for their own classroom. I think this volume is a 'must-read' or STEM education researchers and practitioners."
Sharon Locke, Director
Center for STEM Research, Education, and Outreach
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

"Educators are often concerned with the beliefs, attitudes, and behavior of students, teachers, administrators, school board members, policy makers, or even voters. However, most educational researchers, are not trained in attitude theory and measurement. This book is written expressly for these evaluators and researchers to help them properly measure, understand, and influence attitudes. The book guides one, step by step, through Fishbein and Ajzen’s theory. With a focus on practitioners, it has many examples and figures to help people understand this theory and apply it to their work."
Joe O'Reilly, Director
Decision Center for Educational Excellence
Arizona State University

Preface. CHAPTER 1: A Theory of Reasoned Action: Variables and the Relations Among Them. CHAPTER 2: Formation and Change of Behavioral Intention. CHAPTER 3: Application of the Theory: Preliminary Stage. CHAPTER 4: Application of the Theory: Final Stage. CHAPTER 5: Reporting and Applying the Results of Your Study. CHAPTER 6: Misapplications in Evaluation and Educational Research. Appendix. References. Acknowledgments. About the Author.