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Psychol Health. 2011 Aug;26(8):1036-48. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2010.526715. Epub 2011 May 23.

The persuasive effects of framing messages on fruit and vegetable consumption according to regulatory focus theory.

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Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, University of Groningen, Grote Kruisstraat 2/1, 9712 TS Groningen, The Netherlands.


According to Regulatory Focus theory (RFT), outcomes in persuasive messages can be framed in four different ways, as gains, non-gains, losses or non-losses. In study 1, the persuasiveness of all four frames was compared and the presence/absence effect that was expected on the basis of the feature-positive effect was verified: Statements about present outcomes (gain, loss) were more persuasive than those about absent outcomes (non-gain, non-loss). However, this study failed to support the prediction that a gain-framed message would be more persuasive than a loss-framed message when promoting a prevention behaviour. Study 2 was designed to examine the latter finding. It was hypothesised that the threat posed by the loss-framed message in study 1 was too low to elicit a defensive reaction. Therefore, in study 2, the personal relevance of the gain and the loss framed message was manipulated. Consistent with predictions, the gain-framed message was more persuasive than the loss-framed message, but only when the message was personalised to increase self-relevance. Moreover, the effect was due to a significant drop in persuasion in the loss condition, probably caused by a defensive reaction. These data shed a new light on the findings of past framing studies.

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