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Ease of imagination, message framing, and physical activity messages

Authors


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Tanya R. Berry, E488 Van Vliet Centre, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H9, Canada (e-mail: tanya.berry@ualberta.ca).

Abstract

Objectives

The purpose of this research was to replicate a study that examined how message framing and ease of imagination interact to influence attitudes towards the prevention of heart disease through physical activity and a healthy diet. Changes were made such that only physical activity behaviour was profiled and assessed as a moderating variable. It was hypothesized that gain-framed messages would positively influence attitudes with hard to imagine symptoms, that loss-framed messages would positively influence attitudes with easy to imagine symptoms and exercise frequency would moderate the findings.

Design

This study employed a 2 (easy or hard to imagine symptoms) by 2 (gain- or loss-framed) Solomon square design whereby participants, half of whom completed a pre-test, were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: easy to imagine/gain-framed, hard to imagine/gain-framed, easy to imagine/loss-framed, or hard to imagine/loss-framed.

Methods

Participants included adults over the age of 55 years (N=57) and undergraduate students (18–22 years; N=118). They were described either hard to imagine or easy to imagine symptoms of heart disease and diabetes and asked to imagine them. Participants then read either a gain- or loss-framed physical activity message followed by post-test questionnaires that assessed attitudes, exercise frequency, and demographics.

Results

Regression analyses showed no significant framing effects but significant effects for ease of imagination and exercise frequency as a moderating variable.

Conclusions

This study failed to replicate the original research findings but showed that participants who exercised the least and were in the hard to imagine condition had the worst attitudes towards physical activity.

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