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Loss Aversion and Regulatory Focus Effects in the Absence of Numbers: Qualitatively Framing Equivalent Messages on Food Labels
Unformatted Document Text:  QUALITATIVELY FRAMING EQUIVALENT MESSAGES ON FOOD LABELS Furthermore, most studies examining equivalent gain- versus nonloss-message framing have used quantitative descriptors (Boettcher, 2004; Idson et al., 2004; Liberman et al., 2005; Kahneman & Tversky, 1979; McDermott, 2004; Tversky & Kahneman, 1981). Attempting to qualitatively frame equivalent nonloss and gain messages are of interest because not all information necessary to make a decision can be communicated quantitatively, such as messages about environmental impact or animal welfare on a farm. In fact, research has shown that holistic environmental impact and animal welfare, in particular, are difficult to quantify objectively (Broom, 1991; Stolze, Piorr, Häring, & Dabbert, 2000). At best, quantified messages would be difficult for the average person to fully interpret (Bateman, Dent, Peters, Slovic, & Starmer, 2007). Additional research is needed to test whether the predictions of loss aversion or regulatory focus hold for qualitatively defined frames/descriptors of equivalent gains and nonlosses. Purpose and Hypotheses The purpose of this study was to compare effects of qualitatively framed gain and nonloss messages on attitude. The theories of loss aversion (Tversky & Kahneman, 1981) and goal framing effects (Levin et al., 1998) predict that losses and potential losses garner a stronger hedonic reaction than gains; therefore, avoiding a loss should yield a stronger response than achieving a gain. Although two studies specifically suggested gains are reacted to more strongly than nonlosses (Idson et al., 2004; Liberman et al., 2005) and offer the regulatory focus theory as an explanation, the literature testing and supporting the predictions of loss aversion is far more extensive. However, to ensure regulatory focus is not affecting the response, subjects’ chronic regulatory focus was measured to control for statistically. To measure the effects of framing in this study, attitude was chosen as the dependent variable. An attitude is defined as an association between an object of thought and a valence

Authors: Abrams, Katie.
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Furthermore, most studies examining equivalent gain- versus nonloss-message framing 
have used quantitative descriptors (Boettcher, 2004; Idson et al., 2004; Liberman et al., 2005; 
Kahneman & Tversky, 1979; McDermott, 2004; Tversky & Kahneman, 1981). Attempting to 
qualitatively frame equivalent nonloss and gain messages are of interest because not all 
information necessary to make a decision can be communicated quantitatively, such as messages 
about environmental impact or animal welfare on a farm. In fact, research has shown that holistic 
environmental impact and animal welfare, in particular, are difficult to quantify objectively 
(Broom, 1991; Stolze, Piorr, Häring, & Dabbert, 2000). At best, quantified messages would be 
difficult for the average person to fully interpret (Bateman, Dent, Peters, Slovic, & Starmer, 
2007). Additional research is needed to test whether the predictions of loss aversion or regulatory 
focus hold for qualitatively defined frames/descriptors of equivalent gains and nonlosses.
Purpose and Hypotheses
The purpose of this study was to compare effects of qualitatively framed gain and nonloss 
messages on attitude. The theories of loss aversion (Tversky & Kahneman, 1981) and goal 
framing effects (Levin et al., 1998) predict that losses and potential losses garner a stronger 
hedonic reaction than gains; therefore, avoiding a loss should yield a stronger response than 
achieving a gain. Although two studies specifically suggested gains are reacted to more strongly 
than nonlosses (Idson et al., 2004; Liberman et al., 2005) and offer the regulatory focus theory as 
an explanation, the literature testing and supporting the predictions of loss aversion is far more 
extensive. However, to ensure regulatory focus is not affecting the response, subjects’ chronic 
regulatory focus was measured to control for statistically. 
To measure the effects of framing in this study, attitude was chosen as the dependent 
variable. An attitude is defined as an association between an object of thought and a valence 

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