Which Behaviors Do Attitudes Predict? Meta-Analyzing the Effects of Social Pressure and Perceived Difficulty.
A meta-analysis of 797 studies and 1,001 effect sizes tested a theoretical hypothesis that situational constraints, such as perceived social pressure and perceived difficulty, weaken the relationship between attitudes and behavior. This hypothesis was confirmed for attitudes toward performing behaviors and for attitudes toward issues and social groups. Meta-analytic estimates of attitude-behavior correlations served to quantify these moderating effects. The present results indicated that the mean attitude-behavior correlation was .41 when people experienced a mean level of social pressure to perform a behavior of mean difficulty. The mean correlation was .30 when people experienced social pressure 1 standard deviation above the mean to perform a behavior that was 1 standard deviation more difficult than the mean. The results suggest a need for increased attention to the "behavior" side of the attitude-behavior equation. Attitudes predict some behaviors better than others.