What lies beneath: Reframing framing effects


Decision framing concerns how individuals build internal representations of problems and how these determine the choices that they make. Research in this area has been dominated by studies of the framing effect, showing reversals in preference associated with the form in which a decision problem is presented. While there are studies that fail to reveal this effect, there is at present no theory that can explain why and when the effect occurs. The purpose of this article is to present a selective review of research and use this to argue for a new framework for considering decision framing, to interpret past studies, and to set an agenda for future research. A simple information-processing model is developed. The model provides the basis for arguing that previous research has taken too narrow a view of how decision problems are internally represented and how these representations are transformed into choice behaviour. In addition, the model is used to highlight the importance of decision content and context.

In Thinking & Reasoning, 13, 25-44