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Professor Angela Lee was honored as the recipient of the Stanley Reiter Best Paper Award on March 1.

‘Frame game’ garners marketing professor Stanley Reiter Award

Angela Y. Lee honored with Kellogg School’s annual best paper prize for her research in consumer psychology

By Aubrey Henretty

3/5/2007 - During a presentation attended by students, faculty and staff, Kellogg School Marketing Professor Angela Y. Lee was honored March 1 with the school’s prestigious Stanley Reiter Best Paper Award.

Named in honor of Stanley Reiter, the Morrison Professor of Economics, Mathematics and Managerial Economics (in Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences) and Decision Sciences (in the Kellogg School), the award was established in 2001 to honor outstanding faculty research published within four calendar years of its annual bestowal. The award also complements the school’s L.G. Lavengood Outstanding Professor of the Year Award, which recognizes faculty members for excellence in classroom teaching.

Lee’s winning paper, “Bringing the Frame into Focus: The Influence of Regulatory Fit on Processing Fluency and Persuasion” — co-authored with Jennifer Aaker, the global business chair at the University of California’s Hass School of Business — was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2004. In it, Lee and Aaker discussed various studies in which the authors sought to “examine the moderating role of both regulatory focus and perceived risk on message-framing effects” and to explain why gain-framed messages are sometimes more effective than loss-framed ones and vice versa.

In each study, the authors examined the ways in which the effectiveness of gain frames— which concern attaining something positive or avoiding something negative — and loss frames — which concern not attaining something positive or failing to avoid something negative — vary depending on the content of a given message. They presented mock advertisements for an array of products, including grape juice, sunscreen and medicine said to prevent mononucleosis, with various combinations of frame and content to university students, then surveyed the students on their attitudes about each advertisement.

Lee and Aaker found that the gain frame was most persuasive when messages appealed to subjects’ eagerness to pursue a promotion goal toward growth and accomplishments and when subjects did not perceive themselves to be vulnerable, while the loss frame was most persuasive when messages appealed to subjects’ desire to pursue a prevention goal toward safety and security and when they perceived themselves to be at risk.

In other words, they found that “when the content of a message (i.e. whether it focuses on promotion or prevention concerns) is compatible with the message frame, the message ‘feels right’ to recipients.” This “feeling right” experience, said Lee, renders the message more persuasive and inclines the recipient to comply, which could translate into actions such as buying a product or getting tested for a disease).

“It is a real honor to receive this award,” said Lee, the PepsiCo Professor of International Marketing, who has been on faculty at the Kellogg School since 1995. Her research expertise includes consumer learning, conscious and nonconscious memory, and metacognition.

The award ceremony and presentation were followed by a reception in the Donald P. Jacobs Center.