Emphasising the positive can be more persuasive than pointing out the negative.
Say you're the government and you want to stop people smoking. Should you put really scary warnings on the packets emphasising the health risks?
Or maybe you should tell people about the positive side of becoming a non-smoker, like having whiter teeth, smelling better and being able to run more than 20 metres without having a coughing fit.
[W]hat does the research say?
Originally it agreed that framing messages in terms of losses tends to get people's attention, but research has begun to question this 'common sense' conclusion.
Researchers analyzed science findings and concluded there was a slight persuasive advantage for messages framed positively.
We don't really know why loss-framed appeals turn out to be no more effective, and in some cases worse, than gain-framed appeals. O'Keefe and Jensen suggest it might be because we don't like to be bullied by the government—or by anyone for that matter—into changing our behaviour.
Could be true but I prefer their second explanation which is simply that we prefer to think about nice things. Given the choice between visualising lung cancer and contemplating a dazzling white smile, I know which one I prefer to think about. And if I spend more time thinking about it, then it's got a better chance of persuading me than if I put it straight out of my mind.
Click to read the rest of The Influence of Positive Framing (PsyBlog).