Effectiveness of goal framing and individual versus collective appeals in promoting flu vaccination acceptability

  • M. Penta
  • A. Baban


Background: The study aimed to determine the effects of goal framing and reference points on young adults’ intentions of receiving the seasonal flu vaccine. Methods: We employed a 2 x 3 between-subjects factorial design plus a no-frame control, involving framing (gain or loss) and type of appeals/reference points (outcomes-to self, collective close others or collective unknown others) as factors. We also accounted for participants’ pre-existent attitudes toward vaccines, splitting participants into predominantly positive and predominantly negative attitude groups. The final sample included 512 adults. The main outcome was intention to get vaccinated. Secondary outcomes included perceptions of susceptibility to flu, infection severity, vaccine efficacy, safety, side effects, message evaluation and anticipated regret. We also recorded demographics, affective traits and motivational orientation as control variables. Findings: An ANCOVA revealed a significant three-way interaction between framing, individual vs. collective appeals and pre-existent attitudes on behavioural intentions. For participants with negative attitudes, none of the interventions was significantly superior compared to control, but messages that presented losses for unknown others were more persuasive than messages that presented gains for unknown others. For participants with positive attitudes, a loss-framed, self-oriented message was more persuasive than a control message. Notably, irrespective of framing and pre-existent attitudes, close-others appeals did not appear to be highly persuasive, particularly for participants low in avoidance motivation. We also discussed potential mediators of the observed effects. Discussion: Results have practical implications for future communication efforts and indicate that messages should be tested before being included in public campaigns.
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