BACKGROUND: Even though the terms "action" and "inaction" have been used to describe objects of attitudes, behaviors, and goals, the meaning of action and inaction for lay people has not been investigated.
METHOD: In Study 1, participants were asked to spontaneously generate words and behaviors associated with action or inaction. In Studies 2 and 3, participants were presented with behaviors and asked to report whether each behavior involved agency, effort, and change.
RESULTS: Natural language processing of the responses from Study 1 revealed lay conceptualizations included topics related to occurrence, agency, effort, and change. In Studies 2 and 3, simple regressions showed agency, effort, and change correlated with judgments of action and inaction. However, once these predictors were simultaneously entered into a multiple regression, effort captured most of the variance.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that, even though agency and change are important to the definition of action and inaction, effort is paramount.
- Language processing
- Naïve definitions
ASJC Scopus subject areas