BACKGROUND: Despite their good intentions, people often do not eat healthily. This is known as the intention-behavior gap. Although the intention-behavior relationship is theorized as a within-person process, most evidence is based on between-person differences.
PURPOSE: The purpose of the present study is to investigate the within-person intention-behavior association for unhealthy snack consumption.
METHODS: Young adults (N = 45) participated in an intensive longitudinal study. They reported intentions and snack consumption five times daily for 7 days (n = 1068 observations analyzed).
RESULTS: A within-person unit difference in intentions was associated with a halving of the number of unhealthy snacks consumed in the following 3 h (CI95 27-70 %). Between-person differences in average intentions did not predict unhealthy snack consumption.
CONCLUSIONS: Consistent with theory, the intention-behavior relation for healthy eating is best understood as a within-person process. Interventions to reduce unhealthy snacking should target times of day when intentions are weakest.
Bibliographical noteAcknowledgments This work was supported by the University of
Konstanz, Germany. The first author was supported by a fellowship of
the Swiss National Science Foundation (Fellowship P2ZHP1_155103).
- intention-behavior gap
- intraindividual and interindividual associations
- health behavior
- snack consumption
- ecological momentary assessment