Journal of Consumer Behaviour

Skip to Search

Skip to Navigation

Early View Articles

Effectively using death in health messages: Social loss versus physical mortality salience

Abstract Research based on the terror management health model demonstrates that highlighting death as a consequence of risky behavior can lead to unintended responses to health communications. In two studies, we investigate whether a form of social loss message frame can motivate someone to change his or her behavior to prevent negative health consequences. In Study 1, we compare social loss and physical mortality print messages in the context of “texting while driving.” Overall, social loss as opposed to physical mortality messages facilitate greater intent to reduce risky health behaviors when death‐related cognitions have been removed from conscious awareness. In Study 2, we manipulate message framing and self‐affirmation in the context of “smoking.” We find that highlighting family members' inability to cope when one dies can result in health messages that facilitate the acknowledgment of the health risk and reduce risky health behaviors. This effect is enhanced when individuals affirm on the importance of “relationships with family and friends” prior to viewing health messages. The implications for the terror management health model are discussed noting that death can be effectively used in health communication when framed as relationship protection rather than one's physical mortality.

Add This link

Bookmark and Share>