Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Lindsay Morton




Prospect theory, framing, exercise, social cognitions, intentions


Motivating people to perform physical activities can be a challenging task. One possible avenue is through the use of framing of exercise-related imagery and messages. Gain-frame imagery demonstrates the benefits of performing an activity, whereas loss-frame demonstrates the risks of not taking action on something (Tversky & Kahneman, 1981). With social media as a prevalent platform for exercise tips and tricks, it is possible that the way in which such imagery is framed in advertisements, blogs, and apps could be hindering or helping followers get closer to their physical activity goals. I hypothesized that gain-framed imagery motivates participants to have a desire to exercise more than loss-framed imagery. Two moderators, consideration of future consequences and social comparison, were also analyzed. Union College students (N = 135) recruited through an online database completed a survey on physical activity, social comparison, and consideration of future consequences, were asked to analyze either gain-frame or loss-frame imagery, and afterwards concluded with a survey of their exercise social cognitions. While gain-framing did not influence motivation to exercise across the variables, loss-framing successfully influenced the strength of moderate-intensity exercise intentions. Thus, negatively-framed messages might be more successful in promoting exercise behavior. Prospect Theory, when applied in this manner, could be used on social media platforms and marketing campaigns to encourage people to exercise. Framing may be able to create a healthier society if these techniques that were successful in changing cognitions can also be applied to behaviors in future studies.