Promoting fruit and vegetable consumption: The role of message framing and autonomy

Authors


*Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Sue Churchill, Department of Psychology and Counselling, University of Chichester, Bishop Otter Campus, Chichester, West Sussex, UK (e-mail: s.churchill@chi.ac.uk).

Abstract

Objective

Previous studies have shown that gain-framed messages (vs. loss-framed messages) are more effective when advocating ‘low-risk’ prevention behaviours (e.g., diet, exercise, dental flossing) that minimize the risk of a health problem.The objective of the reported research was to explore whether autonomy moderated the effectiveness of gain-framed vs. loss-framed messages encouraging fruit and vegetable consumption.

Design

A prospective design was used for this study.

Method

At time 1, participants (N = 177) completed a measure of autonomy and read either a gain-framed message (describing the benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption) or a loss-framed message (describing the disadvantages of not eating fruit and vegetables). At time 2, participants reported their fruit and vegetable consumption over the preceding 7 days.

Results

Autonomy moderated the effect of message framing. Gain-framed messages only prompted fruit and vegetable consumption amongst those with high levels of autonomy.

Conclusion

The study identifies a key role for autonomy in shaping recipients' responses to framed messages promoting fruit and vegetable consumption.

Statement of contribution

What is already known on this subject? Previous studies have shown that gain-framed messages (vs. loss framed messages) are more effective when advocating low-risk prevention behaviours (e.g., diet, exercise, dental flossing) that minimize the risk of a health problem.

What does this study add? The current study is the first to demonstrate that the success of a gain-framed message to promote fruit and vegetable consumption is dependent on recipients' level of autonomy.

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