Promoting the Avoidance of High-Calorie Snacks: Priming Autonomy Moderates Message Framing Effects

Pavey, L. and Churchill, S. (2014) Promoting the Avoidance of High-Calorie Snacks: Priming Autonomy Moderates Message Framing Effects. PLOS One. ISSN 1932-6203

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The beneficial effects of gain-framed vs. loss-framed messages promoting health protective behaviors have been found to be inconsistent, and consideration of potential moderating variables is essential if framed health promotion messages are to be effective. This research aimed to determine the influence of highlighting autonomy (choice and freedom) and heteronomy (coercion) on the avoidance of high-calorie snacks following reading gain-framed or loss-framed health
messages. In Study 1 (N = 152) participants completed an autonomy, neutral, or heteronomy priming task, and read a gain framed or loss-framed health message. In Study 2 (N = 242) participants read a gain-framed or loss-framed health message with embedded autonomy or heteronomy primes. In both studies, snacking intentions and behavior were recorded after seven days. In both studies, when autonomy was highlighted, the gain-framed message (compared to the loss-framed message) resulted in stronger intentions to avoid high-calorie snacks, and lower self-reported snack consumption after seven days. Study 2 demonstrated this effect occurred only for participants to whom the information was most relevant (BMI.25). The results suggest that messages promoting healthy dietary behavior may be more persuasive if the autonomy supportive vs. coercive nature of the health information is matched to the message frame. Further research is needed to examine potential mediating processes.

Publication Type: Articles
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Depositing User: Sue Churchill
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2016 08:05
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2016 08:05

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