Monday, March 07, 2011

The power of framing

A recent study looked at the impact of how problems are framed on the solutions that people selected. They created a scenario in which a city had an increasing crime rate. They created two groups of matched participants and the only difference was that one scenario called the problem “the beast of crime” and the other one called it the “virus of crime.” Both groups had to look for relevant data and come up with solutions.

They found significant differences in the approach of these two groups. The beast group looked for information on law enforcement and proposed solutions that were more punitive-oriented (more cops, jails). The virus group looked for information on underlying causes and proposed solutions that were more treatment-oriented (more education, mentoring).

Just one word had this effect. Imagine how much we are influenced by the news sources we rely on. You would be amazed at how much your world view depends on whether you watch Fox or MSNBC. Or Drudge/Huffington Post. Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow.

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