Self-efficacy moderates message-framing effects: The case of skin-cancer detection

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. Studies show inconsistent results as to which type of framing is more effective. In this study, we examined the influence of self-efficacy to perform skin self-examination on the effects of gain- and loss-framed skin-cancer detection messages among 124 university students. For participants with high self-efficacy, a loss-framed message resulted in a higher intention to perform skin self-examination than a gain-framed message. For participants with low self-efficacy, there were no differences in intention between the gain- and loss-framed message conditions. Our results suggest that self-efficacy levels play an important role in message-framing effects. For health communication strategies promoting the active detection of skin-cancer symptoms, messages stressing losses may be more effective than messages stressing gains, but only in persons with high self-efficacy. In addition, our results suggest that health promoting messages can be framed to match recipients' self-efficacy levels. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-349
JournalPsychology & Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

Cite this