Predicting Unethical Behavior: A Comparison of the Theory of Reasoned Action and the Theory of Planned Behavior

Man Kit Chang*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


    This study is a comparison of the validity of theory of reasoned action and theory of planned behavior as applied to the area of moral behavior (i.e., illegal copying of software) using structural equation modeling. Data were collected from 181 university students on the various components of the theories and used to asses the influence of attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control on the intention to make unauthorized software copies. Theory of planned behavior was found to be better than the theory of reasoned action in predicting unethical behavior. A modified version of the theory of planned behavior, with a causal path linking subjective norm to attitude, provided a significant improvement on model fit. The results indicated that perceived behavioral control is a better predictor of behavioral intention then attitude. The direct effect of subjective norm on behavioral intention was not significant, but the indirect effect through attitude was highly significant. Applicability of the theory of planned behavior for moral behavior and the implications for future research are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1825-1834
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Business Ethics
    Issue number16
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 1998

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Management Information Systems

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Direct Effect
    • Economic Growth
    • Indirect Effect
    • Equation Modeling
    • Good Predictor


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