Message framing and sunscreen use: Gain-framed messages motivate beach- goers

Jerusha B. Detweiler, Brian T. Bedell, Peter Salovey, Emily Pronin, Alexander J. Rothman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

384 Scopus citations


Prospect theory suggests that people respond differentially to factually equivalent messages depending on how these messages are framed (A. Tversky and D. Kahneman, 1981). A. J. Rothman and P. Salovey (1997) relied on prospect theory to predict that messages highlighting potential 'gains' should promote prevention behaviors such as sunscreen use best. This experiment compared the effectiveness of 4 differently framed messages (2 highlighting gains, 2 highlighting losses) to persuade 217 beach-goers to obtain and use sunscreen. Attitudes and intentions were measured before and immediately following the delivery of the framed information, and after completing the questionnaire participants were given a coupon redeemable for a small bottle of sunscreen later that same day. People who read either of the 2 gain-framed brochures, compared with those who read either of the 2 loss-framed brochures, were significantly more likely to (a) request sunscreen, (b) intend to repeatedly apply sunscreen while at the beach, and (c) intend to use sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-196
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Applied Psychology


  • Cancer prevention
  • Framing
  • Health behavior
  • Persuasion
  • Sunscreen use


Dive into the research topics of 'Message framing and sunscreen use: Gain-framed messages motivate beach- goers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this