Gain-framed messages are more effective at promoting physical activity than loss-framed messages. However, the mechanism through which this effect occurs is unclear. The current experiment examined the effects of message framing on variables described in the communication behavior change model (McGuire, 1989), as well as the mediating effects of these variables on the message-frame–behavior relationship. Sixty low-to-moderately active women viewed 20 gain- or loss-framed ads and five control ads while their eye movements were recorded via eye tracking. The gain-framed ads attracted greater attention, ps < .05; produced more positive attitudes, p = .06; were better recalled, p < .001; influenced decisions to be active, p = .07; and had an immediate and delayed impact on behavior, ps < .05, compared with the loss-framed messages. Mediation analyses failed to reveal any significant effects. This study demonstrates the effects of framed messages on several outcomes; however, the mechanisms underlying these effects remain unclear.
Erin Berenbaum and Amy E. Latimer-Cheung
Shane N. Sweet, Lawrence R. Brawley, Alexandra Hatchell, Heather L. Gainforth and Amy E. Latimer-Cheung
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.