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EMAC 2020 Annual Conference

Promoting healthy behaviour: The effect of message framing and the presentation of health vs. social consequences on health risk perception

Published: May 27, 2020


Franziska Unger, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg; Martina Steul-Fischer, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg


health risk perception; health communication; health behaviour


Health risk perceptions influence consumers’ everyday health behaviour. Publishers of health communication need to know about effective ways to increase health risk perception to induce stronger health behaviour intentions among recipients. We investigate in our experimental study the impact of message framing (negative vs. positive) and the presentation of health vs. social consequences in health prevention campaigns. The results reveal that negative message frames and the presentation of health consequences increase health risk perception more strongly than positive message frames and the presentation of social consequences. This effect is mediated by a stronger perceived severity for health (vs. social) consequences. Women perceive health (vs. social) consequences more likely and closer in time than men. Our findings show the theoretical and managerial importance of increasing health risk perception through health communication in order to promote healthy behaviour intentions.