Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Message Framing part 1

Message framing has its origin in the work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, who jointly developed Prospect Theory (PT, 1979), which attempts to explain how people manage risk and uncertainty. Two similar and interrelated concepts form the basis of (PT) which in turn forms the foundation of the rhetorical strategy of message framing. The first is the concept of loss aversion, which says that, in general, people strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring possible gains (some studies suggest that losses are twice as powerful, psychologically, as gains). The second, but related concept, is the certainty effect, which says that people are generally risk averse with respect to choices involving probable gains and risk seeking with respect to choices involving sure losses. In other words, people tend to underweight outcomes that are merely probable in comparison with outcomes that are obtained with certainty. According to PT then, an individual’s perception of risk and its attending prospect of potential loss are crucial factors in decision making when confronted with a persuasive message. These insights from PT, have been developed into a rhetorical strategy called message framing, which is about constructing persuasive messages to shape a persons perception of the risk involved in complying with a persuasive message. A persuasive appeal shaped by message framing will frame the content of the appeal either in a positive frame (gain-frame), emphasizing the desirable consequences associated with compliance with the advocated viewpoint, or, a negative frame (loss-frame), emphasizing the undesirable consequences associated with noncompliance.

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