Physical Activity Promotion Message Perceptions Biased by Motivational Dispositions

Kathryn E. Wilson, Paul A. Estabrooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: The delivery of physical activity (PA) promotion messages is an important component of any PA intervention. Gain-framed messages appear beneficial for prevention (rather than detection) behaviors such as PA, but the effects are small and inconsistent. It is possible that these effects are moderated by motivational traits, but this has not been systematically tested in the context of PA promotion messages. This study tested whether motivational traits interact with message features to influence basic subjective perceptions of a standardised set of very brief PA promotion statements. Methods: Fifteen statements were developed across five conditions, manipulated according to frame and kernel state. Participants (n = 800) rated statement content using semantic differential scales reflecting perceived gains/losses, costs/benefits, and positive/negative outcomes. Traits and PA were measured by survey. Results: Structural equation models revealed that ratings of gain-framed statements were positively related to approach motivation, and ratings of loss-framed statements were negatively related to avoidance motivation. Conclusions: Observations support the presence of a congruency effect of motivational traits and message frame on basic perceptions of message content. Future studies should test the impact of these biases on indices of persuasion (attitude and intention) as well as intervention reach and effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)610-635
Number of pages26
JournalApplied Psychology: Health and Well-Being
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • congruency effect
  • message framing
  • personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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