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Psychol Bull. 2006 Mar;132(2):249-68.

Does changing behavioral intentions engender behavior change? A meta-analysis of the experimental evidence.

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  • 1School of Psychological Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom.


Numerous theories in social and health psychology assume that intentions cause behaviors. However, most tests of the intention- behavior relation involve correlational studies that preclude causal inferences. In order to determine whether changes in behavioral intention engender behavior change, participants should be assigned randomly to a treatment that significantly increases the strength of respective intentions relative to a control condition, and differences in subsequent behavior should be compared. The present research obtained 47 experimental tests of intention-behavior relations that satisfied these criteria. Meta-analysis showed that a medium-to-large change in intention (d = 0.66) leads to a small-to-medium change in behavior (d = 0.36). The review also identified several conceptual factors, methodological features, and intervention characteristics that moderate intention-behavior consistency.

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