Message Framing for Health: Moderation by Perceived Susceptibility and Motivational Orientation in a Diverse Sample of Americans

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Description: Objective: The present study examined how gain- and loss-framed informational videos about oral health influence self-reported flossing behavior over a 6-month period, as well as the role of perceived susceptibility to oral health problems and approach/avoidance motivational orientation in moderating these effects. Methods: An age and ethnically diverse sample of 855 American adults were randomized to receive no health message, or either a gain-framed or loss-framed video presented on the internet. Self-reported flossing was assessed longitudinally at two and six months. Results: Among the entire sample, susceptibility interacted with frame to predict flossing. Participants who watched a video where the frame (gain/loss) matched perceived susceptibility (low/high) had significantly greater likelihood of flossing at recommended levels at the 6-month follow-up, compared to those who viewed a mismatched video or no video at all. However, young adults (18-24) showed stronger moderation by motivational orientation than by perceived susceptibility, in line with previous work largely conducted with young adult samples. Conclusion: Brief informational interventions can influence long-term health behavior, particularly when the gain- or loss-frame of the information matches the recipient’s beliefs about their health outcome risks.

License: CC0 1.0 Universal


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