- The ASE model posits that human behavior can be predicted if one studies the intention behind the behavior. It was created by health communication expert Hein de Vries in 1988.
- The ASE model believes intention and behavior are determined by cognitive variables such as attitude, social influence, and self-efficacy. The model also believes that intention predicts behavior such that one’s attitude toward a behavior is influenced by the consequences of that behavior.
- Three cognitive variables are the primary determinants of whether the intention to perform a new behavior was sustained: attitude, social influence, and self-efficacy. Various external variables also influence these factors.
Understanding the ASE model
The ASE model posits that human behavior can be predicted if one studies the intention behind the behavior.
De Vries, a professor at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, has used behavioral models to develop intervention programs related to smoking, alcohol, skin cancer, and diabetes, among others.
The ASE model is based on aspects of social cognitive theory and the theory of reasoned action. It rests on two key assumptions:
- Intention and behavior are determined by cognitive variables such as attitude, social influence, and expectations around self-efficacy.
- Intention predicts behavior. That is, an individual’s attitude toward a particular behavior is based on the consequences the individual expects after performing the behavior.
The model also makes a distinction between two types of variables:
- Distal/descriptive variables – these are demographic variables that help practitioners identify and serve specific target groups for healthcare interventions, and
- Proximal/mediating variables – the aforementioned cognitive variables related to attitude, social influence, and self-efficacy.
The three cognitive variables of the ASE model
Let’s take a more detailed look at the cognitive variables which de Vries noted were the determinants of whether the intention to perform a new behavior was sustained:
1 – Attitude
The attitude of an individual comprises the perceived cognitive and emotional advantages and disadvantages of a certain behavior.
The starting point for exhibiting a new behavior occurs when the individual possesses a positive attitude toward it.
Someone may want to start a new exercise regime to improve their mental health. Another person may want to quit smoking to live long enough to see grandchildren born.
Positive attitudes do not guarantee the behavior will be performed, however. Everyone understands the health benefits of exercise, but many still prefer to sit on the couch as opposed to taking a brisk walk.
2 – Social influence
Social influence relates to:
- The perception that other people behave in a certain way (social modeling). Most individuals prefer to behave in a way that society expects.
- The norms people hold with respect to these behaviors (social norms). In some instances, norms cause individuals to behave in a way that is counterintuitive to their normal way of operating.
- The support individuals receive from others when performing a behavior. When someone has social support for a behavior, there is more chance they will exhibit it. If the behavior is frowned upon, there is less chance it will be displayed.
3 – Self-efficacy
Self-efficacy describes one’s perception of their capability to perform the behavior. In other words, does the individual believe in their ability?
The ASE model makes the distinction between what one thinks one can do and what one can actually do.
The person who believes they couldn’t stick to an exercise regime for more than a week will likely find this to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Others may not bother to start the new regime at all.
External variables and the I-CHANGE model
de Vries later developed the I-CHANGE model to make room for how external variables influence the three motivational factors listed above.
- Awareness factors – knowledge, perception of risk, and education level.
- Behavioral factors – such as one’s overall lifestyle.
- Psychological factors – such as one’s personality.
- Biological factors – one’s age, gender, or genetic predisposition. For example, an individual in their seventies may want to exercise more but is physically unable to because of the pain associated with arthritis.
- Social and cultural factors – for example, how does the price of cigarettes or alcohol influence smokers and drinkers?
- Informational factors – this relates to the healthcare invention program itself. For example, how effective was the choice of communication channel and message?