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Gain/Loss Framing Construct

What should I know about the gain/loss framing construct?

The gain/loss framing construct states that certain audiences respond better to gain-framed messages while others respond better to loss-framed messages.1

  • In a gain-framed message, good things will happen or bad things will not happen if you engage in behavior X.
  • In a loss-framed message, good things will not happen or bad things will happen if you engage in behavior X.

Here are some examples of gain-framed messages:

  • You will lose weight if you stop eating dessert every night.
  • If you start moving more, you will decrease your risk of heart disease.

Here are some examples of loss-framed messages:

  • If you continue eating dessert every night, you will not lose weight.
  • If you don’t start moving more, your risk of heart disease will increase.

How does the gain/loss framing construct show up in our work? 

We consider gain and loss frames when we are crafting health messages for our clients. For example, if we were building a social media campaign, a text messaging program, or an informational brochure, we might do tests to figure out which type of framing works best before publishing. 

Where can I learn more about the gain/loss framing construct?

Click here or watch the video below to learn more.

Works Cited and Works Consulted

  1. Framing: gain or loss frame (message tactic) [video]. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HealthCommWorks; June 18, 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=on2ai4Okp0E. Accessed July 2, 2016.
  2. Which health messages work [video]? Ithaca, NY: Cornell Food and Brand Lab; January 13, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daP7Qv6dg-k. Accessed July 1, 2016.
  3. Rothman AJ, Bartels RD, Wlaschin J, Salovey P. The strategic use of gain- and loss-framed messages to promote healthy behavior: how theory can inform practice. Journal of Communication. 2006;56:S202-S220.
  4. Updegraff JA, Rothman AJ, Salovey P. Using message framing to promote healthful behaviors: an update. http://updegrafflab.org/files/3113/3889/7925/URS-12.pdf. Published January 16, 2012. Accessed July 1, 2016.