Farmer Behaviour as Reasoned Action: A Critical Review of Research with the Theory of Planned Behaviour

Jaap Sok*, Joao Rossi Borges, Peter Schmidt, Icek Ajzen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


In many countries farmers face pressure to adopt practices to promote sustainability and resilience while ensuring efficient business management to produce food and other agricultural products at reasonable cost. Given a policy context in which voluntary action is preferred over government regulation, understanding farmers’ motivation to embrace recommended practices has become a major subject for research. Increasingly, this endeavour is guided by the theory of planned behaviour, a reasoned action approach (Fishbein and Ajzen, 2010). We provide a brief overview of the theory of planned behaviour and an elaboration of good practices in the assessment of the theory’s constructs. We systematically review 124 applications of the theory to farmer behaviour on a number of specific review criteria. Based on observations of improper use, we consider theoretical and methodological issues and provide recommendations for research design and data analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-412
JournalJournal of Agricultural Economics
Issue number2
Early online date17 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Decision making
  • farmer behaviour
  • reasoned action approach
  • reflective and formative measurement
  • review
  • structural equation and MIMIC models
  • theory of planned behaviour


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