Date of Award

1999

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Health Science Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Advisor

Dr David Biggins

Abstract

The focus of this thesis is the replication and extension of research by Tversky and Kahneman (1981) who found that how a message is worded or framed can significantly affect decisional choice. Tversky and Kahneman (1981) demonstrated that a message framed in terms of "lives saved" was favoured over one which read "lives lost" notwithstanding that the net sum of survivors was equal in both instances. The authors referred to the effects of message framing on decision making as Prospect Theory. This thesis studied Tversky and Kahneman's (1981) research applied to the issue of smoking. The preference for a positive frame over a negative frame is hypothesised to be linked to death anxiety whereby saved lives elicits a lesser expression of death anxiety. Relative to decision making death anxiety might act as a function in the decision frame choice. Convenience samples of university students were assigned to either a positive or negative message frame treatment. Data support the hypothesis in Experiment 2 for female participants assigned to a negative frame who were smokers, and in Experiment 3 for female participants assigned to a positive frame who were smokers. These findings show that there is a complex relationship between smokers' and non-smokers' self rated death anxiety scores. Results were interpreted with 2-way chi-square tests and 3-way ANOV A. Findings from this study lend support to Tversky and Kahneman's (1981) explanation of self-control as a function in the reversal of preference phenomenon and add an original contribution to the health promotion, social and communication sciences, particularly for the decision making and message framing literature.

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