The role of message framing and issue-involvement in promoting regular physical activity among sedentary university students

PhD Thesis

Gamage, Gayani Piyasadari 2010. The role of message framing and issue-involvement in promoting regular physical activity among sedentary university students. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsGamage, Gayani Piyasadari
TypePhD Thesis

The aim of the proposed programme of research was to identify an effective strategy for promoting regular physical activity among university students who have low
involvement with this issue. According to the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM),issue-involvement is "the extent to which the attitudinal issue under consideration is of
personal importance" (Petty & Cacioppo, 1979, p.1915). In previous research there have been significant but inconsistent results for the interaction between message framing and issue involvement. Therefore, the current research programme explores the effectiveness of message framing as a strategy that can increase university students'
attitudes and intentions towards regular physical activity in the first three studies, while the fourth study investigates an alternative strategy of message formation focusing on certainty of outcomes.
The first three studies investigated the interactions between message framing (positive/negative), issue involvement (high/low), and argument quality (strong/weak)
by integrating the postulates of Prospect Theory (Kahneman & Tversky, 1982) and those of the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM, Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). The design of the fourth study was informed by the results from the first three studies and the recently identified 'perceived certainty of outcomes' factor as a key determinant of
message framing effects.
Overall, the results were not consistent with the previous findings from message framing studies (Rothman & Salovey, 1997) as the framing variable had no significant effects. However, in the first three studies, issue involvement had statistically significant effects on attitudes and intentions to engage in regular physical activity. In
addition, there were 2 two-way interactions between framing and issue-involvement for averaged attitudes and the likelihood of engaging in regular physical activity. In the
fourth study, there were small but positive correlations between perceived certainty of outcomes and need for cognition scores and one of three intention items. The perceived uncertainty of outcomes correlated significantly with intentions and averaged attitudes. Even though these correlations were significant, the magnitude of these values were relatively small (r = 0.4).
In conclusion, the results of the first three studies of this research programme added evidence to the emerging trend to discard the framing of health promotion messages as aligned with the function of associated behaviours (i.e. prevention vs. detection). In addition to the evidence supporting these new claims about message framing, the current research programme has further significant contributions to the health promotion knowledge base. Studies one and three are the first studies to investigate the integration of message framing and the ELM constructs of issueinvolvement
and argument quality to identify a strategy to increase regular physical
activity among university students. Although, the results for message framing were not
significant, high issue-involvement was observed to be an important variable for
changing attitudes and intentions towards regular physical activity. Therefore,
increasing involvement with regular physical activity can be identified as a significant
strategy that can contribute to the health promotion of regular physical activity among
university students.

KeywordsPhysical activity; Elaboration Likelihood Model; Health promotion
Publication dates
PrintDec 2010
Publication process dates
Deposited12 Sep 2013
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