2011 Grant Award - Paul Fuglestad, Ph.D.

Matching Messages to Self-Regulatory Dispositions in a Brief Self-Directed Weight Loss Intervention

Paul Fuglestad, Ph.D.
Division of Epidemiology & Community Health, University of Minnesota

This proposal merges two lines of research on obesity and related behaviors. The first is obesity treatment research that disseminates effective lifestyle treatments in ways that are less intensive and less costly than those used in standard clinical trials and thus can be made available to larger numbers of people. The second line of research from social psychology has shown that matching messages to individuals’ self-regulatory dispositions can promote healthy diet and exercise behaviors. The aim of the proposed research is to examine the effectiveness of a brief weight control intervention in which messages are framed in terms of promotion focus (emphasizing the benefits of engaging in target behaviors) or prevention focus (emphasizing the prevention of negative outcomes by engaging in target behaviors) with individuals who are dispositionally promotion-focused or prevention-focused. One hundred fifty adults will be randomized to one of three intervention conditions for 6 months: a minimal-contact control condition, a prevention-focused condition, or a promotion-focused condition. Weight, diet and physical activity behaviors, and psychological mediators will be assessed at baseline, 3, and 6 months. We hypothesize that the intervention will lead to meaningful weight loss and that the intervention will be most effective for people whose regulatory dispositions match (versus contrast with) intervention messages. Results from this project will inform development and refinement of public-health approaches to weight control that have the potential to maximize weight control among overweight or obese adults.