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Using mindsets to boost health: how construal level and goal pursuit shape health message effectiveness on cessation behaviors

Márcia Maurer Herter (Universidade Europeia, Lisboa, Portugal)
Adilson Borges (NEOMA Business School, Reims, France)
Diego Costa Pinto (NOVA Information Management School, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal)
Mario Boto Ferreira (Faculty of Psychology, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal)
Anna S. Mattila (Department of Hospitality Management, Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania, USA)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 5 October 2022

Issue publication date: 30 November 2022




This research examines how construal level shapes the effectiveness of rational (vs emotional) messages for inducing cessation behaviors. Concrete mindsets foster self-improvement goals, whereas abstract mindsets boost self-relevance goals.


In four studies, this research examines the moderating role of construal level on health messages and the underlying mechanism of goal pursuit.


Results demonstrate that concrete (vs abstract) mindsets increase consumers’ intent to engage in cessation behaviors when exposed to rational (vs emotional) messages. Consistent with this study’s theorizing, the authors found that self-improvement goals underlie the effects for concrete mindsets, whereas self-relevance goals mediate the effects for abstract mindsets.

Research limitations/implications

The reported effects are limited to health messages focusing on cessation behaviors.

Practical implications

This research can help public policymakers to design more effective health messages to foster specific cessation behaviors – quitting smoking and reducing drinking – focusing on concrete (vs abstract) mindsets and rational (vs emotional) messages.


This investigation highlights construal level as an important moderator for message appeals (rational vs emotional) on cessation behaviors, along with the underlying mechanism of goal pursuit, thus contributing to health marketing literature.



This paper received partial support from the Management of Information Research Center (MagIC), project UIDB/04152/2020.


Maurer Herter, M., Borges, A., Costa Pinto, D., Boto Ferreira, M. and S. Mattila, A. (2022), "Using mindsets to boost health: how construal level and goal pursuit shape health message effectiveness on cessation behaviors", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 56 No. 12, pp. 3197-3226.



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