Rates of skin cancer among young women are increasing and most cases are associated with tanning behavior. In health communication, scholars and practitioners use framing as a strategy to design persuasive messages. In this experiment, we advance framing research by testing a serial model of framing theory in the context of outdoor tanning behavior among collegiate women. We designed two message frames, language difficulty, and message relevance, to target accessibility and applicability, two mechanisms within framing theory. We deployed these frames in a 2 × 2 experimental design and found that message frames that promoted accessibility and applicability significantly increased perceptions of severity, susceptibility, and reduced behavioral intentions to tan. Our results support framing theory and provide practical implications for message designers who use frames to inform and persuade.
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