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Framing Effects
Do We Build Frames? 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


 

More on Framing Effects
Asian Disease Problem
Memory and Illusions
Information Processing Models
Prospect Theory
Fuzzy-trace Theory
Discussion


What are Framing Effects?

This web page was created to provide some understanding into what framing effects are, theories about why they occur, as well as a review of the literature suggesting when they occur. I have incorporated theories of memory and illusions, information processing models, and fuzzy-trace theory into the understanding of framing effects. For an overview of this web site, you may want to review my slide show.

Tversky and Kahneman (1981) discovered that the framing of an option as either a chance to achieve gains or as a chance to avert losses provided inconsistencies in the responses of participants.  In their study of undergraduate students the majority of people preferred the sure gain alternative to the uncertain gamble when options were phrased in positive terms.  This tendency has been labeled as risk aversion.  However, when the same logically equivalent option was offered from a negative (loss) perspective, the majority of people chose the risky gamble over the sure-loss option.  This tendency has been labeled as risk seeking.  In short, the same information presented in different forms can lead to different conclusions.  They believed that prospect theory was the most applicable perspective in understanding framing effects.

Framing effects have been found to be robust, but do vary across situational tasks, and the strengths of framing effects are mostly moderate to small.  An exception was Tversky and Kahneman's 1981 Asian disease problem, which consistently yielded strong effect sizes for framing. 

Researchers have explored many different aspects of frames, including amount of information to include in outlining the problem, to the level of options to include as solutions.  There are some theorists who agree that the phenomenon of framing effects do exist, but there are discrepancies in the research on their strength when examples are more "realistic" than the Asian disease problem.  Further, other theories may be able to explain framing effects more appropriately than Prospect theory put forth by Tversky and Kahneman.  In my search of understanding this phenonmenon, I returned to the long standing theories of Cognitive Psychology such as, memory, and information processing theories, as well as a new theory called Fuzzy-trace theory proposed by Reyna and Brainerd.  This web site includes a review of a combination of studies and theories in order to explore the strengths and weaknesses of each in terms of their interpretation of the framing effect phenomenon. 

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Web Page by Stephanie Barclay McKeown for EPSE 501, UBC
contact me at:email me at: sbarclaymckeown@hotmail.comsbarclaymckeown@hotmail.com 
This page was last updated on 12/10/00.