Loss/Gain Framing, Dose, and Reactance: A Message Experiment

Chelsea L. Ratcliff*, Jakob D. Jensen, Courtney L. Scherr, Melinda Krakow, Kaylee Crossley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Whether a loss or gain frame has a persuasive advantage in communicating health risks is a matter of ongoing debate. Findings reported in the literature are mixed, suggesting that framing effects are likely complex and may be influenced by a combination of factors. This study examined reactance as a mediator and dose as a moderator of loss/gain framing effects. Adults (N = 1,039) read framed messages about the health consequences of physical (in)activity in varying message doses (i.e., number of framed statements). Compared to loss frames, gain frames generated more threat to freedom and reactance. Dosage exerted significant influence at the extremes; the one-dose messages invoked less intentions to exercise compared to the four-dose messages. Planned contrasts revealed significant frame × dose interactions. Notably, the one-dose gain-framed messages triggered significantly more freedom threat and less intentions to engage in physical activity—a situation that changed when the information was loss-framed or when the dosage was increased.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2640-2652
Number of pages13
JournalRisk Analysis
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Dose
  • health risk
  • loss and gain framing
  • message framing
  • reactance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Physiology (medical)


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