Dr. Joseph McGlynn recently published an article entitled, "Desire or Disease? Framing Obesity to Influence Attributions of Responsibility and Policy Support" in the journal Health Communication. The study, co-authored with Matthew McGlone of UT-Austin, examined the effects of message framing of obesity messages on attributions of responsibility and support for public obesity policies. Respondents who read a message that assigned agency to the disease (e.g., Obesity causes health problems) were more likely to attribute responsibility for obesity to genetics than those who read an equivalent message assigning agency to people (e.g., Obese people develop health problems). In contrast, assigning agency to people, rather than to the disease, prompted higher attributions of individual responsibility and higher support for public obesity policies. The results demonstrate specific message features that influence how people attribute responsibility for obesity and their support for public policies aimed at reducing the disease.
This study was initiated as a part of Dr. McGlynn's doctoral dissertation, completed at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. McGlynn received his M.A. in Communication Studies from UNT in 2006, his doctoral degree from UT-Austin in 2014, and is now a faculty member for the Department of Communication Studies at UNT.