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Based on research by Rothman et al, 2006. Psychology Science Minute written by Kyle Piecora, M.S..
Are the ways you communicate messages important in changing behavior in others? Psychologist Alexander Rothman and collaborators learned certain kinds of communication might serve to be very useful, especially concerning people’s health.
Gain-framed statements are ones that refer to the good things that will happen in the future, as well as bad things that will not happen. Gain-framed messages were found to be more effective when targeting preventative behaviors, i.e., those that will prevent the onset of disease or accidents. For example, messages that speak about potential gains may motivate people to wear seatbelts or apply sunscreen.
Loss-framed messages refer to bad things that will happen and good things that will not happen. Loss-framed messages were found more effective when requesting people go for screening and diagnostic procedures, behaviors that may detect the presence of a disease. To illustrate, warning of potential dangers may help people initiate more regular cancer screenings.
When thinking about your health, imagine the things you could gain by changing your behavior, and you will be more likely to be successful. In turn, think about what you may lose if you do not take consistent measures to find out if you are unhealthy. Also, use these messages to influence other people you know and love!
Rothman, A. J., Bartels, R. D., Wlaschin, J., & Salovey, P. The strategic use of gain- and loss-framed messages to promote healthy behavior: How theory can inform practice. Journal of Communication, 56, S202-S220.