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

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Health-promoting messages can be framed in terms of the gains associated with healthy behavior or the losses associated with unhealthy behavior. 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 behavior 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. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-354
JournalHealth Education Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


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