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The Relative Persuasiveness of Gain-Framed and Loss-Framed Messages for Encouraging Disease Detection Behaviors: A Meta-Analytic Review


Daniel J. O'Keefe; e-mail:


A meta-analytic review of 53 studies (N = 9,145) finds that in messages aimed at encouraging disease detection behaviors, loss-framed appeals (which emphasize the disadvantages of noncompliance with the communicator's recommendation) are only slightly, but statistically significantly, more persuasive than gain-framed appeals (which emphasize the advantages of compliance); the difference corresponds to a correlation of −.04. Loss-framed appeals enjoy a small statistically significant advantage for messages advocating breast cancer detection behaviors, but not for any other kind of detection behavior (detection of skin cancer, other cancers, dental problems, or miscellaneous other diseases) nor for all other kinds of detection behaviors combined. Thus, in advocacy of disease detection behaviors, using loss-framed rather than gain-framed appeals is unlikely to substantially improve persuasiveness.