Using past behaviour and spontaneous implementation intentions to enhance the utility of the theory of planned behaviour in predicting exercise


Correspondence should be addressed to Tracey Brickell, Psychology Department, Back in Motion, 110-6651 Elmbridge Way, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V7C 5C2 (e-mail:


Objectives. This study examined the utility of the theory of planned behaviour (TPB), past behaviour, and spontaneous implementation intentions in predicting exercise behaviour. The psychological correlates of spontaneous implementation intentions and the moderating effects of intention, perceived behavioural control, past behaviour, and implementation intentions at various time points were also examined.

Design. Data collection occurred over three phases with a 2- and 3-week interval. The attrition rate was 35.97% leaving a total of 162 participants (63 males, 99 females). In the first wave, participants completed measures of TPB, spontaneous implementation intentions, and past behaviour. Behaviour was assessed in the second and third waves, and a follow-up measure of spontaneous implementation intentions was completed in Phase 3.

Results. Several regression analyses were conducted. Attitude towards exercise and perceived behavioural control made a significant contribution to the prediction of intention. Intention made a significant contribution to the prediction of implementation intentions. Spontaneous implementation intentions reduced the effect of intention and past behaviour for behaviour at 2 weeks and when indexed over a 5-week period. When behaviour was measured for a 3-week period (following an initial 2-week period), the variance that intention and past behaviour accounted for in exercise behaviour decreased, and spontaneous implementation intentions were no longer a significant predictor of behaviour. Spontaneous implementation intentions were found to interact with past behaviour, such that implementation intentions predicted exercise behaviour only among participants who did not exercise frequently in the past.

Conclusions. Implications and future research directions are discussed.