Cues to Action & Bridging the Intention-Behavior Gap

It is not uncommon for developmental projects, like ours, to use a polytheoretical approach. In our case, we’ve ‘cherry-picked’ select theories to help us understand if and how RIPPLE works, one being the Health Belief Model.

gapMore recent versions of the HBM include a concept called cues to action. Essentially, a cue to action includes any environmental or biological trigger that activates readiness to perform a behavior under certain conditions. For example, an individual may perceive the benefits of a yearly dentist visit, feel susceptible to developing caries, and intends to eventually visit the dentist, but that reminder postcard in the mail (the cue to action!) is what actually nudges them to book an appointment.

If you haven’t guessed yet, we hypothesize that RIPPLE may act as a cue to action for some parents who have already formed intentions to improve children’s lifestyle behaviors, but just haven’t acted on them yet! This discrepancy I’m referring to is called the ‘intention-behavior gap’ and is often due to one-of-three elements: intention (1) viability (i.e., a discrepancy between an individual’s actual and perceived intentions), (2) activation (i.e., readiness has yet to be activated), and (3) elaboration (i.e., the complexity of a behavior was undermined and therefore not acted on).

One goal for RIPPLE is to help parents bridge the intention-behavior gap, and based on my knowledge, I suspect RIPPLE may act optimally for parents who are aware of their child’s weight status, concerned about their dietary, physical, and sedentary lifestyle behaviors, and are motivated to improve them.

Stay tuned for results 🙂

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