The effects of frame, appeal, and outcome extremity of antismoking messages on cognitive processing

Health Commun. 2009 Apr;24(3):219-27. doi: 10.1080/10410230902804117.


Research on the impact of antismoking advertisements in countermarketing cigarette advertising is equivocal. Although many studies examined how different message appeal types influence people's attitudes and behavior, there have been few studies that have explored the mechanism of how individuals attend to and remember antismoking information. This study examined how message attributes of antismoking TV ads (frame, appeal type, and outcome extremity) interacted to influence people's attention (secondary task reaction time) and memory (recognition). Antismoking public service announcements were chosen that were either loss- or gain-framed, had either a health or social appeal, or had either a more or less extreme outcome described in the message. Among the key findings were that loss-framed messages with more extreme outcomes required the most processing resources (i.e., had the slowest secondary task reaction times) and were the best remembered (i.e., were best recognized). These findings indicate ways that different message attributes affect individuals' cognitive processing, and they are discussed in light of prior framing and persuasion research.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Advertising / methods*
  • Cognition*
  • Consumer Health Information / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Models, Psychological
  • Smoking Prevention*