Investigating message-framing effects in the context of a tailored intervention promoting physical activity.

J.P. van 't Riet, R.A.C. Ruiter, M.Q. Werrij, H. de Vries

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    40 Citations (Scopus)


    Health-promoting messages can be framed in terms of the gains associated with healthy behaviour or the losses associated with unhealthy behaviour. It has been argued that gain-framed messages promoting physical activity (PA) are more effective than loss-framed messages, but empirical findings are inconsistent. Also, no previous studies investigated the effects of gain- and loss-framed messages in the context of a computer-tailored PA intervention. In this study, we provided participants with computer-generated tailored feedback concerning their PA levels. In total, 787 participants entered in the study, of whom 299 completed all measures at a 3-month follow-up. We investigated whether gain- and loss-framed messages promoting PA affected information acceptance, attitude, intention and behaviour differently. The results showed that gain-framed messages resulted in stronger intentions to be physically active than loss-framed messages. This did not result in a significant increase in actual PA, however, as measured by a 3-month follow-up assessment. For information acceptance and attitude, a non-significant advantage of gain-framed messages was found. All effects had small effect sizes. Thus, whereas gain-framed information might be more persuasive than loss-framed information when it comes to promoting PA, the differences between gain- and loss-framed messages are likely to be small.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)343-354
    JournalHealth Education Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • loss-framed messages
    • health messages
    • planned behavior
    • implementation intentions
    • exercise adherence
    • prospect-theory
    • regulatory fit
    • computer
    • persuasion
    • participation

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