Framing and priming are two powerful tools used in psychology to influence people’s behavior. They both work by using our past experiences, biases, and emotions to persuade us towards a particular thought or action. While framing is the use of language to present an idea in a specific manner that encourages agreement, priming involves providing subtle cues that subtly but significantly shape our decisions.

What is framing?

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Framing refers to the way in which information is presented to us. It can be verbal (e.g., through words) or nonverbal (e.g., through pictures or music). The framing of information can have a significant impact on how we process it and how we subsequently behave.

For example, imagine you are considering buying a new car. You may be more likely to buy the car if it is described as “luxurious” and “reliable” than if it is described as “expensive” and “ prone to breaking down”. The same car can be seen as either a good or bad purchase depending on how it is framed.

What is priming?

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Priming refers to the activation of certain concepts in our memory which then influence our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Unlike framing, priming does not involve any conscious processing of information. Studies have shown that even subliminal (below conscious awareness) primes can affect behaviour.

For example, if you are exposed to words related to old age (e.g., wrinkle, retirement), you may walk more slowly afterwards because the concept of old age has been activated in your mind and this affects your behavior.

Framing Vs. Priming – Key differences

Framing and priming are two related concepts often used in psychology and communication studies to explain how the way information is presented can influence people’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. While both concepts are related to how information is presented, there are some key differences between them:

Definition: Framing refers to the way a message is presented, emphasizing some aspects of the message while de-emphasizing others, in order to influence how the message is interpreted. Priming refers to the process by which exposure to a stimulus (such as a word, image, or idea) influences the response to a subsequent stimulus.

Timing: Framing occurs when a message is presented, typically before a person has formed an opinion or made a decision about a topic. Priming can occur either before or after the target stimulus is presented.

Focus: Framing focuses on the content of the message and how it is presented. Priming focuses on the context in which the message is presented and how it affects subsequent responses.

Mechanism: Framing is thought to work by changing the way people process information and make decisions. Priming is thought to work by activating certain concepts or associations in memory, which then influence subsequent judgments or behavior.

Goal: Framing is typically used to influence how people think about a particular issue or topic, while priming is used to influence how people respond to a particular stimulus.

Framing and priming are both important concepts for understanding how communication can influence people’s attitudes and behavior. While they share some similarities, they differ in terms of their definition, timing, focus, mechanism, and goal.

Examples of framing

Framing refers to the way in which information is presented, while priming refers to the activation of certain concepts or associations in memory. Both can influence our judgments and decisions.

Here are some examples of how framing might affect our judgments and decisions:

  • A study on Framing Effects on Economic Decisions found that people were more likely to favor policies that stimulated the economy when those policies were framed as being “pro-growth” rather than “anti-poverty.”
  • In another study, students who read about a professor who was described as either “strict” or “lenient” rated the professor as more competent when he was described as “strict.” However, they also perceived him as less likeable when he was described as “strict.”
  • In a third study, participants read about two different health care plans. One plan was described using positive terms (e.g., “preventive care”), while the other was described using negative terms (e.g., ” rationing”). The participants were then asked to choose which plan they preferred. The results showed that more people preferred the plan when it was described using positive terms.

These studies illustrate how framing can influence our judgments and decisions. When information is presented in a certain way, it can affect our perceptions, preferences, and choices.

Examples of priming

Priming occurs when exposure to one stimulus affects a subsequent response to another stimulus. For example, if you are shown a picture of a smiling face before taking a test, you might score higher on the test than if you had seen a picture of a frowning face. This is because the positive image of the smiling face “primes” you for success.

Framing occurs when the way in which information is presented affects how that information is interpreted. For example, imagine you are considering two investment options. One option is described as having a 90% chance of doubling your money, while the other option is described as having a 10% chance of losing your money. Most people would choose the first option, even though both options have the same expected return. This is because the “frame” of losses is more potent than the frame of gains.

What is media priming and framing?

Media priming is the phenomenon whereby an individual’s exposure to media content influences their subsequent processing and interpretation of new information. For example, if someone is shown a news story about a political candidate that emphasizes their positive attributes, they are more likely to subsequently rate that candidate as more competent than if they had been shown a story that emphasized the negative.

Framing, on the other hand, is the process of presenting information in a way that highlights certain aspects while downplaying others. For example, a headline that reads “Framing: The art of choosing words to sell your product” is more likely to grab attention than one that reads “What is framing?”

What are examples of priming in psychology?

Priming is a cognitive phenomenon whereby exposure to one stimulus influences the response to another stimulus. For example, if you are shown a list of words including “old,” “wrinkled,” and “grey,” and then asked to complete a word-stem such as “__sh” with the first word that comes to mind, you are likely to respond with “gray” or “grey.” This is because the concepts of old age and grey hair have been primed in your mind by the earlier exposure to these words. Similarly, if you are shown a picture of a smiling face, you are more likely to rate subsequent pictures as happy.

What are the types of framing?

There are two types of framing: Issue framing and Attribute framing.

Issue framing focuses on the cause-and-effect relationship between an issue and a problem. It is often used to influence public opinion on an issue.

Attribute framing focuses on the characteristics or attributes of an object or person. It is often used in advertising to promote a product.


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