Aims and Background: For consumers to make healthy informed decisions (e.g. choose
a low nutritional risk food product), they need to receive and exchange information with experts,
health authorities, health and risk communicators and other interest groups. However, communicators
often face the challenge that consumers avoid such information and have a low engagement
with health and risk communication activities. This often results from a lack of consideration of
consumers’ characteristics and communications customization to them.
Methods: A potential approach to increase engagement with communications is providing information
that fits consumers’ need and goals, particularly their regulatory orientation. We propose that
such customization can be applied within a Mental Models’ Approach operationalized through a
recently patented Mental Modeling Technology PlatformTM (US9262725B2).
Results: Drawing results from psychological science and particularly Regulatory Focus Theory,
communications can be customized to two global individual’s goal orientation: 1) Promotion focus;
2) Prevention Focus. Communications customized into a promotion orientation (vs. prevention orientation)
should make salient gains/positive consequences (vs. losses/negative consequences).
Regulatory orientation should be measured in Mental Models Approach step two and message customization
in step three (communication design).
Conclusion: The role of individual psychological factors which influence food perception and
choice should be considered in future studies/interventions to promote healthier decisions. Those
responsible for designing mass dissemination messages and/or public health interventions, may
benefit from using regulatory fit to facilitate behavior change, particularly when cost-effective personalized
bidirectional communications are not possible.