Model Basics

The Integrated Behaviour Model (IBM) is a model for understanding and influencing behaviour with a focus on intentions and motivation. The model incorporates recent research findings and integrates two influential psychological theories: Self Determination Theory and the Theory of Planned Behaviour, addressing the gaps that the two theories have separately [16]. 

In the context of IBM, intentions reflect your motivation or willingness to do something, and are the precursor of actual behaviour. Your intentions to do something are in turn influenced by your attitudes, by the perceived social norms and by your perceived personal agency. So having the right attitudes, norms and personal agency fosters autonomous (intrinsic) motivation and positively impacts intentions to perform a behaviour whereas the lack of the right attitudes, norms and personal agency leads to more controlled levels of motivation and negatively impacts intentions. 

Attitudes are determined by your feelings about the behaviour (experiential attitude) and your behavioural beliefs, or the extent to which a person has a favourable or unfavourable evaluation of a behaviour based on the possible outcomes of actually performing the behaviour (instrumental attitude). Perceived norms comprise what others are doing (descriptive norms) as well as the expectations of others (injunctive norms). Personal agency involves a person’s perceived control over a particular behaviour given how we might perceive that there are environmental factors that make a behaviour easier or harder to do (perceived control) and people’s beliefs in their actual skills and capabilities to perform the behaviour in question (self-efficacy). For example, someone may have the intention to exercise more  because they believe that the consequences of being more active would be beneficial (so the person has a positive attitude towards the behaviour), because maybe they have friends or family members who are also trying to become more active (so the perceived social norms favour the behaviour) and because they feel like they have the skills and capabilities they need to increase their physical activity (so they have a sense of personal agency). All of this would increase their intention and motivation to exercise. 

An important difference between IBM and the two previous theories that it builds upon is that the IBM incorporates automatic processes that influence behaviour. While it recognises the importance of deliberate processes to influence motivation and intentions, it also recognises the influence of non-conscious or impulsive processes, such as habitual responses, learned associations or contextual cues that can sometimes override intentions (leading to the well-known intention-action gap). For example, someone might have the right attitudes, social norms and personal agency but they might fail to actually exercise because they don’t have the right habits in place.

Model Strengths

✅ The IBM is very comprehensive, incorporating both reflective and automatic processes that influence behaviour.  

✅ The constructs in the model and the influence on behaviour of the different construct is well supported by empirical evidence.

Model Weaknesses

❌ The IBM (just like Self Determination Theory or the Theory of Planned Behaviour) has mostly been used in the context of health behaviour, and its effective application to other contexts is less clear [17].

❌ The IBM offers key areas for interventions to target, but it lacks simple guidelines or processes for practical implementation. 

❌ The IBM requires specialist knowledge to be applied (e.g. use of scales) 

❌ The IBM has not been used much in industry and there is a lack of resources/case studies to see the model in action.

Model Snapshot

Key takeaway

Having the right attitudes, perceived norms and level of personnel agency is essential to influence intention and motivation, which are the precursors of behaviour. Automatic processes are also important and can sometimes control behaviour when intentions are low. 

When to use this model

When you need a comprehensive model that integrates motivation, reflective and automatic components of behaviour

What you get from this model

A model with a broad scope that allows you to measure the association between key psychological constructs and someone’s intention to perform a behaviour.

What you don’t get from this model

Although the IBM highlights key areas to influence, it  doesn’t come with tools or guidelines for simple implementation. It requires expert knowledge and may be less actionable than other models.

Extra Resources

🧠 For a long read on the Integrated Behaviour Model from the original authors read: An Integrated Behaviour Change Model for Physical Activity

🧠 For a long read on the Integrated Behaviour Model from the original authors read: An Integrated Behaviour Change Model for Physical Activity