Psychology Night Research Posters and Presentations

Faculty Sponsor, if applicable

Joseph Mikels

Project Abstract

Age-related differences in motivation and emotion can lead older adults to prefer positive over negative information, and influence how people of different ages consider health-related information.

Gain-framed messages are positively valenced and emphasize the benefits of a behavior, whereas loss-framed messages are negatively valenced and stress the consequences of not engaging in a behavior (Rothman & Salovey, 1997). Furthermore, gain-framed messages promote behaviors by stressing that they result in either a desirable outcome (increasing agility) or in avoiding an undesirable outcome (overcoming pain). Loss-framed messages illustrate how not engaging in a behavior can result in not attaining a desirable outcome (loss of mobility) or in attaining an undesirable outcome (increased illness).

We used focus groups to examine whether such influences were reflected in older and younger adults’ self-selected exercise motivations. Participants individually listed their top five exercise motivators after generating lists of benefits and consequences as a group.

Older and younger adults selected gain-desirable motivators most often, though older adults chose gain-undesirable motivators more often than younger adults. In summary, both groups were greatly motivated by the benefits of exercise. However, relative to the young, older adults may have experienced more health issues that they desired to overcome through exercise.

Type of Research

Doctoral-Undergraduate Opportunity for Scholarship (DUOS)


image preview