Framing affects behavior

Framing affects behavior

David Hardisty shows how framing affect the order of people’s thoughts:

A take-away restaurant near my house offers customers free home delivery or a ten per cent discount if you pick up. It sounds much better than saying you get no discount for picking up and suffer a ten per cent fee for delivery — this is the power of ‘framing’. Now David Hardisty and colleagues have dug a little deeper into framing, to show first, that these kinds of effects can interact with people’s political persuasion, and second, that they can act by altering the order of people’s thoughts.


Hundreds of online participants chose between various flights, computers and so on. In each case they could plump for a cheaper option or a more expensive, greener option, the latter including either a ‘tax’ to help reduce carbon emissions, or an ‘offset’ to do the same – depending on how the choice was framed.

Erving Goffman, a sociologist, showed in the 1970s, that primary frameworks allow its users to locate, perceive, identify, and label a seemingly infinite number of concrete occurrences in the world. He showed a person is likely to be unaware of such frameworks (e.g., a discount, political persuasion) and unable to describe the framework with any completeness if asked.

The power of frameworks is yet to be uncovered as one of the greatest opportunities for designers.