Moving beyond the function of the health behaviour: The effect of message frame on behavioural decision-making

Roger D. Bartels, Kristina M. Kelly, Alexander J. Rothman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations

Abstract

Health messages that provide gain- or loss-framed arguments have a differential impact on behavioural decision-making (Rothman & Salovey, 1997). Typically, gain-framed messages more effectively promote preventive health behaviours, which maintain health and minimise the risk of a health problem, whereas loss-framed messages more effectively promote detection behaviours, which involve the risk of finding a health problem. Two experiments tested the thesis that the risk implications of the behaviour are an important determinant of the persuasive impact of gain- and loss-framed appeals. Results revealed that when the risk associated with a health behaviour (either a prevention behaviour in Experiment 1 or a detection behaviour in Experiment 2) was low, participants responded more favourably to gain-framed messages. However, when the risk associated with the health behaviour (either prevention or detection) was high, participants responded more favourably to loss-framed messages. Discussion focuses on the importance of taking into account how individuals construe a behaviour when constructing framed appeals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-838
Number of pages18
JournalPsychology and Health
Volume25
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 27 2010

Keywords

  • Detection behaviour
  • Health communication
  • Message framing
  • Prevention behaviour
  • Risk

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