ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (10): 1878-1886.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.01878

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The expression mechanism of individual behavior in the perspective of I3 model

ZHANG Lu, WU Yuntena(), JIN Tonglin   

  1. College of Psychology, Inner Mongolia Normal University, Hohhot 010022, China
  • Received:2020-12-07 Online:2021-10-15 Published:2021-08-23
  • Contact: WU Yuntena


I3 model, which is also known as “I-cubed model”, has shaped a theoretical framework for explaining individual behavior, which argues that all behaviors emerge from a combination of instigation, impellance and inhibition. Each factor can change independently of the other two. The structure of I3 model is a comprehensive model of 12 paths consisting of three factors (instigation, impellance, and inhibition), a mediator (behavioral proclivity), and an outcome (behavior). The 12 paths predict the individual behavior mechanism in specific contexts by describing 18 problems, such as aggressive behaviors, eating behaviors, etc. As a theoretical framework for behavior research, Finkel and other researchers verified and supported the theory with empirical studies on a large number of studies over the past 10 years, which suggests that the theory is consistent with the data. In addition, in terms of the self-consistent nature of the model system, the I3 model has certain rationality, compatibility, and unique value compared with other classical theories and behavior models. First, the I3 model is compatible with the Planned Behavior Theory and Dual-Process Theory. In this sense, Finkel demonstrates the rationality of constructing I3 model by referring to the behavioral tendency of the Planned Behavior Theory and the behavior reaction of the Dual-Process Theory. Second, the I3 model has its own peculiarities as well as its superficial similarities with general behavioral models such as the "S-O-R'' model. Overall, Finkel tries to combine the research results and theoretical viewpoints under various mediating and regulating research paradigms to establish a grand theoretical system of human behavior. Third, in the same way, Finkel specifically analyzes the similarities and differences of I3 model with General Aggression Model and Goal Conflict Model in explaining the attack behavior and feeding behavior, thus revealing the uniqueness of I3 model.

However, this model has the following problems: (1) From the perspective of the entire research system, this model is only a scientific theory and has not yet reached the level of a metatheory. (2) From the perspective of theoretical guidance, the model does not clearly explain the boundary conditions and scope of the theory, and does not consider the sources of other research questions. Although various main effects and interaction tests have been examined, it is still a data-driven test, and it does not reveal the actual interaction mechanism of these three forces; (3) From the practical application, the I3 model only focuses the individual behaviors, such as eating behaviors and aggressive behaviors, few researchers explore other individual behaviors and social behaviors, such as prosocial behaviors, learning behaviors, etc. There are also certain flaws in the interpretation of some specific behaviors and the explanation of some specific behaviors also has certain defects. Consequently, it is necessary to broaden the field of behavioral research on the I3 model in the future, not only to analyze the subtypes of the behavior and the types of behavior in different scenarios but also to explore the tendency and intention of the individual behavior; Secondly, we should apply the I3 model according to local condition, which needs to determine the type and quantity of factors combined with specific research problems, so as to achieve the results we want; Last but not least, we should integrate I3 model with other theories, and further explore the boundary conditions of I3 model. In summary, I3 model improves explanatory power of behavior theory to various behavior types and meets the current concern regarding behavioral research, such as behavior nudge and network behavior, and enriches theoretical support and theoretical framework for behavioral analysis.

Key words: I3 model, theoretical framework, expression mechanism, behavior

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