Investigating the effect of message framing on parents’ engagement with advertisements promoting child physical activity

  • Jocelyn W. Jarvis
  • Heather L. Gainforth
  • Amy E. Latimer-Cheung
Original Article


Physical activity (PA) messages are more or less effective depending on the gain, loss, mixed, or neutral frame of the information presented. Whether the frame of a message promoting children’s physical activity impacts parents’ support of their children’s PA is unknown. As a first step to addressing this research gap, this study examined parents’ evaluations of differently framed, publically available children’s PA video advertisements (ads). Moms (n = 84) and dads (n = 99) with at least one child aged 8–13 year viewed 4 ads. Following each ad they completed measures of ad engagement including message involvement, message believability, attitudes towards the message within the ad and attitudes towards the advertisements as a whole. Within-participant ANCOVAs with bonferroni post hocs indicated that parents considered the loss-framed ad less believable than all other ads (ps < 0.001). The gain-framed ad was considered more believable than the neutral-framed ad (p < 0.01). Additionally, participants’ attitudes towards the gain- and neutral-framed ads were more favourable compared to the loss- and mixed-framed advertisements (ps < 0.001). These findings suggest that parents consider gain- and neutral-framed messages more engaging than loss- and mixed-framed messages. Whether these perceptions translate into changes in parents’ perceptions and behaviours related to supporting their children’s PA remains to be determined.


Message framing Physical activity Mass media Social marketing Social support 



We would like to thank the Canadian Institute of Health Research for their funding support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jocelyn W. Jarvis
    • 1
  • Heather L. Gainforth
    • 1
  • Amy E. Latimer-Cheung
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Kinesiology and Health StudiesQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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