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Subst Use Misuse. 2014 Jun;49(7):824-35. doi: 10.3109/10826084.2014.880721. Epub 2014 Feb 6.

The effects of framing and fear on ratings and impact of antimarijuana PSAs.

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  • 11College of Nursing, University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.


A laboratory experiment, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, involved 243 U.S. undergraduate students and employed a 2 (gain-framed vs. loss-framed) × 2 (high vs. low threat) plus control group pretest-posttest experimental design to assess the combined effects of frame (gain vs. loss) and level of threat of public service announcements (PSAs) about marijuana on attitudes, beliefs, and intentions related to marijuana, as well as the relationship of message condition to ratings of PSAs. Results suggest that loss-framed messages may lead to greater perceived threat, as well as reactance, and gain-framed messages may lead to a greater reduction in positive attitudes toward marijuana than loss-framed messages. Finally, frame and threat may interact in a complex way. Further research is suggested to replicate these findings. A substantial body of carefully crafted and systematic research studies examining both content and features of messages increasingly informs mass media prevention efforts, including the development of public service announcements (PSAs). Although the significance of messages on commercial broadcast stations may be diminishing with the increasing role and impact of new media, many of the basic questions addressed by this research are likely to apply across media channels. Nonetheless, important questions about what makes a message effective in changing an individual's attitudes or behavior remain to be answered. In this paper, the authors focus on two theoretically derived strategies that offer possibilities for developing persuasive messages: framing and threat.

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