The Theory of Planned Behavior in Digital Gaming

The theory of planned behavior explains that behavior is determined by three factors including attitudes, subjective norms, and behavior perceived controls (Ajzen &Madden, 1986). Also, I believe that interpersonal influence determines behavior. Digital gaming such as video games has been one of the widely discussed behaviors and these predictors influence an individual in engaging in it. This paper studies how the four predictors influence digital gaming behavior.

Attitude is a major determinant of digital gaming behavior. (Cherry, 2020) defines attitude as to how a person has learned to evaluate things.  How a person has learned to evaluate the gaming behaviors will prompt them in taking part in the games. Some of the ways for developing digital gaming attitudes include experience, learning, social factors, observation among others. For instance, if a person observes people playing video games being entertained, they will develop a positive attitude towards the games and then the person will behave in such a way they need to do video games for them to get entertained. Thus, attitude is a great determinant of gaming behavior.

Subjective norms focus on people how the society or rather the people around view a certain behavior. To some extent, playing digital games depends on what a person’s circle believes about the games. According to the theory of planned behavior, those who are interested and play digital games are influenced by the beliefs their friends, relatives or the society as a whole believes in. for example, in a college context, if a person has three of four friends who play the games, likely, they will also start playing digital games. Similarly, society holds to the norm that digital gaming is important for creative thinking, individual within the society will be involved in it.

Behavior perceived controls involve an individual evaluating whether they have what it takes to be involved in a certain behavior (Ellen, Wiener, & Cobb-Walgren, 1991). In digital gaming, individuals look at whether they have the right technology, for instance, a computer or mobile phone, internet connection, and probably a peaceful environment for concentration. If the person meets the requirements, they decide to engage in playing games such as video games. Additionally, individuals also consider their knowledge of digital gaming. If they believe that they have enough knowledge then they engage in the behavior. For instance, if a child has a computer, accessibility of the internet, and the knowledge, they can comfortably do digital gaming.

Interpersonal influence also determines the intentions of an individual engage in digital gaming. This is closely related to subjective norms but interpersonal influence focuses on social groups such as friends and being socially attracted rather than what the society believes in. In this case, the behavior is determined by the information being communicated by the social groups around an individual (Wiese et al., 2011). If your friends are obsessed with playing video games and keeps on talking about it, it likely you will also start the same. The saying that birds of the same feathers flock together explains this factor. Thus, engaging in digital gaming behavior will also depend on interpersonal relations.

To conclude, attitudes, subjective norms, behavior perceived controls, and interpersonal influence determines an individual’s behavior in digital gaming. How a person evaluates the behavior, what others around believe, and possession of requirements to participate in digital gaming will force the person to engage in it. (Ajzen, 1991) says that an individual’s intention is key in performing a given behavior. However, playing digital games can be addictive and those prone to the behavior should take care of that.  



Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179-211.

Ajzen, I., & Madden, T. J. (1986). Prediction of goal-directed behavior: Attitudes, intentions, and perceived behavioral control. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 22, 453- 474.

Cherry. (2020, May 3). How can our attitudes change and influence behaviors? Retrieved from

Ellen, P. S., Wiener, J. L., & Cobb-Walgren, C. (1991). The role of perceived consumer effectiveness in motivating environmentally conscious behaviors. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing10(2), 102-117. DOI:10.1177/074391569101000206

Wiese, J., Kelley, P. G., Cranor, L. F., Dabbish, L., Hong, J. I., & Zimmerman, J. (2011). Are you close to me? are you nearby? Proceedings of the 13th international conference on Ubiquitous computing – UbiComp ’11. DOI:10.1145/2030112.2030140