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, 9(7), e103892. ISSN (online) 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.

Item Type: Article
Research Area: Psychology
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (until 2017) > School of Psychology, Criminology and Sociology (from November 2012)
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Depositing User: Louisa Pavey
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2014 16:51
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2015 16:05

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