Predicting road safety behavior with the implicit attitudes and the Theory of Planned Behavior

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Journal of Safety Research

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Introduction The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) is one of the most widely used psychological models when it comes to explaining road safety behaviors. Recently, studies have also been conducted from the perspective of dual-process models. However, the present is the first study on road safety behaviors that integrates both perspectives. The study evaluates the roles of both implicit attitudes and TPB constructs in the prediction of seatbelt use. Method A sample of 100 drivers completed: (1) a self-reporting instrument on seatbelt use, (2) a questionnaire addressing TPB constructs, (3) an indirect measure of attitudes (Implicit Association Test), and (4) a social desirability scale. Results Results suggest that both types of attitudes make a significant and quite similar contribution to the explanation of seatbelt use. Interestingly, implicit attitudes were a better predictor than explicit attitudes among participants reporting inconsistent seatbelt use. In addition, path analysis models suggested that implicit attitudes appear to be relatively independent of TPB constructs and have a direct effect on seatbelt use. Conclusion The findings advance the idea of adding implicit attitudes to variables from the TPB model in order to increase the explanatory power of models used to predict road safety behaviors. Practical applications Potential use of implicit attitude measures in the education and training of drivers are discussed.