Making the business case for breastfeeding: an experimental test of self-interested and other-regarding gain- and loss-framed health appeals Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 20, 2019
  • Peuchaud, Sheila Rose
    • Affiliation: Hussman School of Journalism and Media
  • Breastfeeding has demonstrable benefits for children, mothers, the community, and businesses. Despite significant increases in breastfeeding initiation and duration in recent decades, infant feeding practices in the United States still fall short of recommendations. Research indicates that many women have been persuaded of breastfeeding's benefits but may not initiate breastfeeding or may wean early due to the difficulties of maintaining paid employment while breastfeeding. This post-test only 2 (Appeal: Self-Interest vs. Other-regarding) X 2 (Frame: Gain vs. Loss) between-subjects factorial field experiment tested persuasive messages designed to encourage business owners and managers to support lactating mothers in the workplace. The self-interest and other-regarding appeals manipulation explored whether business owners and managers are more persuaded by messages about the benefits breastfeeding can bring to their business, or messages about the benefits of breastfeeding for their employees and society at large. The gain- and loss-framing manipulation concerned the relative effectiveness of messages emphasizing potential gains from supporting breastfeeding, or potential losses incurred by failing to support breastfeeding. Participants (n=123) were business owners and managers, 49.6% male, 50.4% female, with a mean age of 68 years old (SD = 12.8 years), and a median age of 50 who responded to an online survey. Participants were well distributed among 20 industry categories from across the United States. Participants were randomly exposed to stimulus materials adapted from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Business Case for Breastfeeding. Participants were assessed on attitudes and behavioral intentions regarding workplace support for lactating mothers, manipulation checks, and control variables. Participants were also asked if they were willing to receive more information regarding corporate lactation programs. This study found that the combination of other-regarding, gain-framed messages had a persuasive advantage in terms of attitude and intention concerning workplace support for breastfeeding. In light of previous findings that have found no significant advantages for gain-framed messages, the current study's findings suggest that gain- framing is more effective when used to promote social issues for the greater good than when it is used to promote actions that accrue benefits to the individual.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication."
  • Brown, Jane D.
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

This work has no parents.