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Psychol Health. 2010 Sep;25(7):821-38. doi: 10.1080/08870440902893708.

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

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Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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