The framing effect occurs when we make decisions about information depending on the presentation or context of its delivery.

What is the framing effect?

The framing effect is a cognitive bias that influences our perception and decision-making. The influence comes from the way information is presented (framed), affecting how we interpret and respond to the information.

For example, by presenting information as a gain, you can emphasize the potential benefits of an action; by framing information as a loss, you can emphasize the potential costs of inaction. 

Examples of the framing effect in action:

What is framing bias?

There is a difference between the framing effect and framing bias:

Essentially, framing bias is an error in judgment that arises from how people process information when it is presented in a certain way. 

Real-world examples of the framing effect 

Framing bias can occur in several instances. Below are some real-world examples that illustrate the effect of it.

News media

News stories are almost always framed in a way that can influence how people perceive the news, resulting in framing bias. 

For example, if a news story about a crime is framed as being committed by a member of a particular ethnic group, this often leads to negative stereotyping and bias (e.g., confirmation bias) against that group. 


Framing is often used to influence consumer behavior in advertising.

For example, an advertisement for a weight loss product might frame the product as being a “quick and easy” way to lose weight rather than underlining the effort weight loss requires. 

The framing effect can influence people’s perceptions of the product itself and possibly affect their purchasing decisions, creating framing bias.


The framing effect is particularly used in political campaigns, so politicians can present their message in a way that will be most persuasive to voters.

For example, a politician might claim to be “protecting American jobs” rather than “limiting foreign trade”. Both statements essentially mean the same, but the specific framing can influence how voters perceive the candidate’s message, which may affect their voting decisions.

The 4 main types of framing 

There are four main types of framing: auditory frame, values frame, visual frame, and positive and negative frames. 

You can learn more about the four main types below.

1. Auditory frame

The auditory frame refers to how a message is spoken, e.g., conveying enthusiasm versus indifference. A person can use different styles of tones to present information to other people, which affects the way the information is perceived.

In auditory framing, the focus is mainly on how the message is delivered rather than its content. Different aspects of auditory framing include:

2. Value frames

A value frame involves psychological techniques, where messages are presented in terms of core values or beliefs. For example, framing a policy issue as a matter of fairness or justice can appeal to people’s sense of values.

In values framing, the focus is mainly on aligning the message with the target audience’s values, to help make them feel that they are getting a better deal than they are. Some aspects of values framing include:

3. Visual frames

Visual frames is the way a message is visually presented to draw attention to specific parts of a message.

In visual frames, the focus is mainly on the visual presentation of the message, which can affect the impact of the message. Some aspects of visual framing include:

4. Positive and negative frames

A positive frame emphasizes the benefits of a particular action or decision, while a negative frame emphasizes the potential losses or risks. 

For example, presenting a health campaign as promoting wellness versus avoiding illness is an example of positive versus negative framing. Another example is the common phrase about looking at the glass half full or half empty. 

In positive and negative framing, the main focus is on the potential outcomes of the message or decision. Aspects of positive and negative framing include:

Factors that influence framing effect

The framing effect is influenced by individual, situational, and cultural factors. Learn more about those three factors below. 

Individual factors

Individual factors refer to characteristics that are specific to the individual receiving the message. This includes:

Individual factors are the reason why individuals with higher levels of education tend to be less susceptible to the framing effect and, therefore, less likely to develop a framing bias.

Situational factors

Situational factors refer to contextual factors that influence how a message is received, which can impact how people respond to framed messages. This includes:

Cultural factors

Cultural factors refer to values and beliefs shared by a particular group or society and shape how information is framed and perceived. This includes:

Can you overcome the framing effect?

Awareness of the framing effect and consciously considering alternative framing is a great way to overcome it.

For example, by using multiple frames to present information and providing context and additional information, you can reduce the impact of framing. 

Additionally, it is crucial to be mindful of the potential biases that can lead to framing bias and work to overcome them.


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