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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Category: Cognitive Effects Research Group

New article from KEG “Framing Obesity: Effects of Obesity Labeling and Prevalence Statistics on Public Perceptions”

New article “Framing Obesity: Effects of Obesity Labeling and Prevalence Statistics on Public Perceptions” in the journal Health Education and Behavior from the Cognitive Effects Research Group (KEG).

Abstract: The rising prevalence rate of obesity in the United States has accentuated concerns about obesity-related problems as a major public health issue, which has motivated widespread efforts to increase public knowledge and to motivate individuals to change their relevant behaviors. Although health campaign messages commonly include information about prevalence rates for obesity, the impact of obesity labeling and prevalence rate descriptions in such messages has been overlooked by researchers. This online framing experiment fills the research gap by investigating the effects of obesity labeling (disease vs. body type) and prevalence statistics (prevalence rates of obesity, extreme obesity, combined overweight-obesity, or no prevalence information). Our findings suggest that obesity perceptions deviate from reality and that participants use framed cues in the health message as reference points when making judgments related to the nature and prevalence of obesity. Moreover, this study shows that even accurate information might lead to inaccurate perceptions as a result of framing, and perceptions of the nature and prevalence of obesity mediate the effects of framing on behavioral intentions. Implications for obesity framing and the design of public health messages are discussed.

Full citation:Liu, J., Lee, B., McLeod, D. M., & Choung, H. (2019). Framing obesity: Effects of obesity labeling and prevalence statistics on public perceptions. Health Education & Behavior, 46, 322-328.

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MCRC Team Conducts Online Experiments About Message Accuracy

The MCRC 2017-2018 research team has developed two parallel online experiments examining citizen information processing and judgments about message accuracy. Project 1 compares the priming effects of different ways of presenting fact-checking articles. It examines the perceived value and perceived influence of fact-checking, as well knowledge accuracy regarding e-cigarettes. Project 2 examines priming effects of digital literacy materials on audiences’ motivation and capability to detect fake Twitter accounts. Moreover, it investigates the effect of pre-existing values and political orientations on judgments about information veracity.

MCRC Research 2016-2017

MCRC’s 2016-2017 project conducted a national survey of American citizens on the eve of 2016 presidential election. Data were collected on citizens’ political ideology, values, and worldviews, issue positions, and voting behaviors. A series of cluster analysis identified voter types based on a host of enduring values and worldviews. Results revealed interesting patterns of association between and among partisan and independent voters. Interestingly, the clusters grouped together voters across traditional party and ideological boundaries, indicating that even in this era of political polarization, American citizens have more in common than we might think. Results from this study have been presented in a series of papers at several national conferences.