USING THE THEORY OF PLANNED BEHAVIOUR TO UNDERSTAND GENDER DIFFERENCES IN DIETING
 
Cooper, S.R. and Harding, C.L., Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom
 
This study examined gender differences in dieting among school children using the theory of planned behaviour (TPB). A secondary focus concerned whether perceived behavioural control (PBC) could be distinguished from perceived difficulty. Eighty-nine girls and 77 boys completed questionnaires containing TPB variables and measures of descriptive norm, current-ideal figure discrepancy and body self-esteem. As a whole, participants indicated relatively weak intentions to diet, though significant gender differences were found on most measures. Hierarchical regression indicated that intentions to diet could be predicted by attitude and subjective norm, and that females were more strongly influenced by their attitude toward dieting than males. Principal components analysis provided no support for a distinction between PBC and perceived difficulty. Further, the resulting factor, referred to as perceived control over dieting, failed to contribute to the variance explained in intention. The predictive power of the model was, however, enhanced by the inclusion of current-ideal figure discrepancy, body self-esteem and descriptive norm for females but not for males. The findings suggest that the model provides a valuable framework for understanding intentions to diet, though the differential importance of attitude and subjective norm across males and females should be taken into consideration when designing interventions.