Responding to framed health messages: different strokes for different (handedness) folks

Psychol Health. 2014;29(6):671-86. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2014.881999. Epub 2014 Feb 14.


Research has shown that strength of handedness - a proxy variable for the degree of interaction between the left and right brain hemispheres - predicts differences in a variety of cognitive domains. The present paper extends this work to message (or goal) framing effects in which persuasive health communications emphasise positive vs. negative outcomes. One hundred fifty-six participants read pamphlets containing statements emphasising either the gains of using or the losses of not using sunscreen. Replicating previous research, non-users of sunscreen were more affected by framed messages than users. However, we found a loss- rather than gain-framed advantage, and mixed (inconsistent)-handers seemed to drive these effects more so than strong (consistent)-handers. These results suggest that a 'one-size-fits-all' approach may be inadequate in crafting effective educational messages about health behaviours, and that theories centring around one's regulatory focus orientation as well as new methods in laterality research may be useful in reaching the widest range of individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Functional Laterality*
  • Health Communication / methods*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pamphlets
  • Persuasive Communication*
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Sunscreening Agents