Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Framing Effect

Framing effect is a cognitive bias that describes how people tend to draw different conclusions from the same information, depending on how it is presented. One useful way to look at framing effect is to break it down into three different categories: Risky Choice Framing, Attribute Framing, and Goal Framing (1).

Risky Choice Framing
In risky choice framing, subjects are presented with a situation where they must choose between one of two options. The first option has a sure thing outcome and the second option is a gamble(the risky choice). When confronted with these sort of scenarios, research shows that subjects tend to be risk averse (choose the sure thing) when the problem is framed in terms of gains and are risk seeking (choose the gamble) when the problem is framed in terms of losses.

The The most famous example of framing effect was demonstrated by Tversky and Kahneman (1981)through a set of experiments known as the 'Asian disease problem'. The participants in the study were given the following situation:

Imagine that the US is preparing for the outbreak of an unusual Asian disease,which is expected to kill 600 people. Two alternative programmes to combat the disease have been proposed. Assume that the exact scientific estimates of the consequences of the programmes are as follows.

The first half of the participants were given the following options:
If Programme A is adopted, 200 people will be saved. If Programme B is adopted, there is one-third probability that 600 people will be saved and two-thirds probability that no people will be saved.  72% of the participants chose option A, whereas only 28% of participants chose option B

The second group of participants were given the following variation:
If Programme A is adopted, 400 people will die. If Programme B is adopted, there is a one-third probability that nobody will die and a two-thirds probability that 600 people will die.  In this variation only 22% chose option A, and 78% chose option B.

Of course, there is no difference between either of the A options or either of the B options. The only difference is in how they are presented.

Attribute Framing
In attribute framing a single attribute of an object or event is described in either equally positive or negative terms. The subjects are then required to provide some sort of evaluation. The findings in these cases was that an object or an event was evaluated more favorably when presented in a positive frame as opposed to being presented in a negative frame.

One study of attribute framing "was conducted by Levin and Gaeth (1988). They showed that perceptions of the quality of ground beef depend on whether the beef is labeled as “75% lean” or “25% fat.” They found that a sample of ground beef was rated as better tasting and less greasy when it was labeled in a positive light (75% lean) rather than in a negative light (25% fat). Notice that the information framed here is not the outcome of a risky choice but an attribute or characteristic of the ground beef that affects its evaluation."(1)

This of course is very familiar to us all via advertising and political media (whether we realize it or not).

Goal Framing
In goal framing, a subject is encouraged to engage in some activity using either a message which stresses the positive consequences of performing an action or the negative consequences of not performing an action. Findings suggest that typically subjects are more likely to engage in the activity when the consequences of not performing the action are used.   

One famous example involved evaluating the effects of positive vs negative messages in trying to encourage woman to perform breast self examinations (Meyerowitz and Chaiken (1987)).  "They showed that women were more apt to engage in breast self-examination (BSE) when presented with information stressing the negative consequences of not engaging in BSE than when presented with information stressing the positive consequences of engaging indo BSE have an increased chance of finding a tumor in the early, more treatable stages of the disease.” The negative complement is, “Research shows that women who do not do BSE have a decreased chance of finding a tumor in the early, more treatable stages of the disease.”(1)

(1) All Frames Are Not Created Equal: A Typology and Critical Analysis of Framing EffectsIrwin P. Levin, Sandra L. Schneider, Gary J. Gaethhttp://bcs.siuc.edu/facultypages/young/JDMStuff/LevinFraming.pdf

(2) The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice, Amos Tversky; Daniel Kahnemanhttp://psych.hanover.edu/classes/cognition/papers/tversky81.pdf

No comments:

Post a Comment