Do people differentially attend to and form preferences for messages framed to varied stages of change and types of goals and motivation orientation


The purpose of this study was to compare how people who varied in their stage of change for physical activity (detection, decision, implementation) and motivation (autonomous versus controlling) orientations differed in the attention they gave to the images/written content of six physical activity messages, and compare how they ranked the six messages according to their preferences. Undergraduates (n = 201; females = 152; males = 47) who averaged 19 years of age, with a BMI of 22.55 participated in this study. Participants were instructed to read six different messages tailored to one of three stages of change, and framed to highlight either intrinsic or extrinsic goals for engaging in physical activity, and asked to respond to a series of questions including; age, gender, height, weight, previous physical activity level (Godin's Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire; Godin & Sheppard, 1997), stage of change for physical activity (adapted from Weinstein, Roathman, & Sutton, 1998), general motivation orientation (General Motivation Scale; Pelletier & Dion, 2007), attention to written content/images (adapted from Laczniak, Mueling, & Grossbart, 1989), and they were asked to rank the messages according to their preferences. In general participants reported a greater tendancy to attend to and prefer messages that were tailored to their corresponding stage of change, yet their attention to and preferences for messages framed to reflect intrinsic or extrinsic goals did not consistently align with their motivation orientation. These prelimiary results reject the "one-size-fits-all" approach to messaging and supports the perspective that informative messages that promote physical activity may be processed differently depending on the characteristics of the readers.