Can Persuasive Messages Encourage Individuals to Create Action Plans for Physical Activity?

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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Given the positive influence of action planning on physical activity, persuasive messages could be designed to promote action planning. The purpose of this paper was to test action planning messages in two studies. Participants were allocated to one of two message groups, reading either a physical activity only or physical activity plus action planning message (Study 1) and either a gain-framed or loss-framed action planning message (Study 2). The percent of individuals who created an action plan and the quality of the plans were evaluated. In Study 1, individuals in the physical activity plus action planning group created as many action plans as the physical activity only group, but their plans were higher quality. In Study 2, Week 2 differences between the gain- and loss-framed message groups were found for action planning. To our knowledge, these studies were the first to investigate message-induced action planning as a behavior. More research is needed to optimize these messages.

Shane N. Sweet is with the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada, and with the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Lawrence R. Brawley is with the College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Alexandra Hatchell, Heather L. Gainforth, and Amy E. Latimer-Cheung are with the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Address author correspondence to Shane N. Sweet at shane.sweet@mcgill.ca.