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۱٫ Introduction

Given the increase in obesity rates along with the increased frequency of consuming food away from home (Bowman and Vinyard, 2004), the focus on restaurants efforts to promote healthier eating has received much attention (Glanz et al., 2007; Koplan and Brownell, 2010). Nutrition information is sometimes provided and/or required on restaurant menus to help people make healthy choices when they eat out (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2013); however, researchers have reported inconsistent effects of nutrition information on customers selecting healthful menu items at restaurants (Elbel et al., 2009; Harnack and French, 2008; Yamamoto et al., 2005). In contrast, other researchers have emphasized the role of psychological factors in food selection (Jun et al., 2014; Senauer, 2001). The theory of planned behavior is one of the most popular theoretical frameworks for investigating how the psychological factors of attitude, subjective norms, perceived behavioral control, and behavior intention affect people’s eating behaviors (e.g., Dunn et al., 2011; Kassem et al., 2003; Vermeir and Verbeke, 2008). However, the TPB has received criticism in two respects: its assumptions and conceptualization of some components. With respect to assumptions, the TPB has been criticized because of the focus on rational decision making although not all behavioral decisions are made based on a rational consideration of the behavior’s advantage and disadvantage (Gibbons et al., 1998; Ohtomo and Hirose, 2007). In particular, food selections are not determined only through deliberative reasoning processes but instead, people sometimes choose whatever they want to eat without rational consideration. To investigate this type of reactive decision making process, prototype images and behavioral willingness have been most frequently used (Gibbons et al., 2009). Although behavioral willingness does prove to be a determinant of actual behavior, like behavioral intention in the TPB, behavioral willingness tends to be shaped by a reactive response to a social context. Prototype image refers to the perceptions a person has about the typical person who engages in a given behavior, and it is one of the determinants of behavioral willingness (Gibbons et al., 2009). For example, Spijkerman et al. (2004) reported that when people had positive perceptions of smokers, they were likely to be willing to smoke themselves; this relationship could be explained by the reactive decision-making approach. Some researchers have alleged that the TPB’s components, in particular attitudes and subjective norms, are not adequately conceptualized (Rise et al., 2008; Taut and B ˘ aban, 2012; Tuu et al., 2008). Critics have charged that the TPB focuses only on cognitive aspects of attitude (i.e., cognitive attitudes) and on social norms related to others’ approval/disapproval regarding a certain behavior (i.e., injunctive norms) thereby suggesting that the concept of attitudes should be examined through both cognitive attitudes and affective attitudes (e.g., feelings/emotions) (e.g., Taut and B ˘ aban, 2012 ˘ ), and the concept of subjective norms through both injunctive norms and descriptive norms (e.g., what most people do) (e.g., Tuu et al., 2008). Despite these criticisms, there are limited studies attempting to remedy such shortcomings of the TPB in the domain of healthy eating behavior. Moreover, to the best of our knowledge, there have been no studies done in restaurant settings that have used this theoretical argument. To address these criticisms, this study investigated the applicability of an extended theory of planned behavior in the domain of customers’ healthful menu item selection by deploying an on-line survey to restaurant consumers. This study had two objectives. The first was to investigate both rational and reactive (or unintentional) behavioral decision processes in selection of healthful menu items at restaurants by adding both prototype image and behavioral willingness to the TPB. The second objective was to test the extended TPB by subdividing the components of attitudes into affective and cognitive attitudes and the component of social norms into injunctive and descriptive norms. Therefore this study contributed to and extended the existing literature by examining the roles of these constructs in people’s selection of healthful menu items at casual dining restaurants.

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