Garcia-Retamero & Cokely, 2011: Graphically depicting messages, more than framing them as gains or losses, increased sexual-preventative and illness-detecting behaviors among undergraduates
Sexually active undergraduates read a brochure about sexually transmitted diseases. Following prospect theory, the authors hypothesized that (1) emphasizing gains rather than losses in describing a prevention behavior (condom use; e.g., “using condoms reduce[s] the chance of…contracting STDs” versus “not using condoms increase[s] the chance of…contracting a STD”) would promote compliance but (2) that emphasizing losses rather than gains in describing a detection behavior (screening; e.g., “not conducting screening reduce[s] the chance of receiving effective treatment” versus “screening increase[s] the chance of receiving an effective treatment”) would promote compliance. This was the case. Whereas ~65% of participants reported using condoms in every sexual encounter in the next six weeks in the gain-frame condition, only ~35% in the loss-frame condition did. For reports of making a screening appointment with a doctor, these numbers reversed. However, when the brochure included graphics depicting risk information, compliance rates were high overall and gain/loss framing did not matter.