Framing (Tversky)

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Focus the attention within a field of meaning, using frames. Explanation of Framing of Tversky and Kahneman. ('81). Fairhurst and Sarr. ('96)


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Framing examplesWhat is Framing? Description

Using Framing techniques, we can focus the attention of people within a field of a meaning. Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman should be seen as the founders of Framing theory, although Fairhurst and Sarr actually coined the term.

Unlike the central concept of the rational choice theory (people always strive to make the most rational choices possible), Framing theory suggests that how something is presented (the "frame"), influences the choices which people make.

Frames are abstract notions that serve to organize or structure social meanings. Frames influence the perception of the news by the audience. This form of agenda-setting not only tells what to think about an issue (agenda-setting theory), but also how to think about that issue.

Framing is a quality of communication that leads others to accept one meaning over another. It is the process by which a communication source can define and can construct a political issue or public controversy.

Understanding Framing is an important topic since it can have a big influence on the content of the thoughts of people. Try to test the examples on the right to see if you can withstand Framing...

Framing does not have to be a bad thing, and it is in fact an unavoidable part of human communication. We find it in the media as events are presented within a field of meaning. We find it in politics as politicians attempt to characterize events as one thing or another; we find it in religion, and we find it in negotiating when one side tries to move another towards a desired outcome. Finally it can also be used by leaders of organizations with profound effects on how organizational members understand and respond to the world in which they live. It is a skill that most successful leaders possess. It is a skill that is not often taught.

According to Fairhurst & Sarr (1996) Framing consists of three elements:

  1. Language
  2. Thought
  3. Forethought

Language helps us to remember information and serves to transform the way in which we view situations. To use language, people must have thought and reflected on their own interpretation frameworks and those of others. Leaders can and should learn Framing spontaneously in certain circumstances. Being able to do so, is related to having an insight in what the future will bring to predict Framing opportunities. In other words, leaders must make plans so that they can be spontaneous.

Framing Techniques (Fairhurst and Sarr, 1996)

  1. Metaphor. To give a new meaning to an idea or to a program by comparing it with something else.
  2. Stories (myths and legends). Framing a subject by telling an anecdote in a vivid and memorable way.
  3. Traditions (rites, rituals and ceremonies). Patterning and defining an organization at regular time increments to confirm and reproduce organizational values.
  4. Slogans, jargon and catchphrases. Framing a subject in a memorable and familiar fashion.
  5. Artifacts. Illuminating corporate values through physical objects (vestiges). Sometimes in a way language can not do.
  6. Contrast. To describe a subject in terms of what it not is.
  7. Spin. Talking about a concept so as to give it a positive or negative connotation.

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