Today’s Bunker Logic and Reason Lesson is a cognitive bias called the FRAMING EFFECT. The Framing Effect cognitive bias, often combined with others, is one of the primary ways that information is presented to you today. So, let’s get started!
The Framing Effect can become complicated, but simply stated it describes a specific bias in how a person is influenced by the presentation of information. The phenomenon wherein a person’s preference out of any group of options is influenced more by the way that the information is presented rather than by the substance of the information being presented, is an example of the Framing Effect. Most people in most situations are influenced more by the presentation of information than by the information itself.
How information is packaged and delivered to you is more instrumental in how/if you choose to accept it than the actual information itself.
• People who are told they have a .02% likelihood of dying become fearful, while people who are told that their survival will be 99.98% likely become more confident.
• If I offer you an elixir that will kill 95% of parasites in your body, you might be willing to buy it, but if I advertise that it will leave 5% of the parasites in your body alive and unscathed, you probably won’t.
• If a news report told you that you are more likely to be struck by lightning twice in your life than you are to be eaten by a shark, you may determine that swimming in the ocean is completely safe. If the same report claimed… “BUT, once you get in the ocean with sharks your odds of being eaten by sharks will go up dramatically!” perhaps you will feel a little more cautious about swimming in shark infested waters.
• Famous podcaster Joe Rogan took HORSE DEWORMER as medicine! (This is how it was framed even though the medicine has been manufactured and prescribed for human use for decades and there are more than 29 separate peer reviewed studies showing its effectiveness in the specific case for which it was prescribed to Rogan.)
Ok, these examples might seem a little extreme, but they are real, and believe me, there are entire industries and careers whose entire reason for existence is to frame things that you see and hear so that you will more readily accept them. Most of the information that you take in throughout a normal day is FRAMED in some way for you.
Add to this a phenomenon called PROSPECT THEORY and you will get a better understanding of why information is presented to you in the way that it is.
PROSPECT THEORY holds that people are more motivated by a fear of loss than they are by the prospect of gain. Which is to say that SAFETY AND SECURITY SELLS. If you want to get rich, cause fear of loss in your customers who don’t choose your product.
So, imagine being told that you were going to have to choose a particular treatment. The options were framed thusly:
Option 1: Only 600 people will receive the treatment, and because of the treatment 200 will be saved.
Option 2: Of the people who choose this option, only 33% will survive.
Option 3: Literally 400 people who try this treatment are going to die.
Studies show conclusively that the options that induce fear are rarely chosen, and options that seem to indicate hope, safety, and security (avoiding loss) are the ones more people choose. Even if the underlying data is the same.
In a recent post I claimed that you should be studying how information is presented to you, and if you determine that the people who present information/advertising/marketing are evidently and tacitly targeting stupid people, then you should react accordingly. That is, if you aren’t stupid, do not reward FRAMING if you can avoid doing so. At the very least, determine that there is an attempt to influence you in a certain direction, likely against your best interests, and learn to think clearly and independently.
Things are being FRAMED for you. That is how the mass-man is moved.
Have a great day!
Daniel Carr says
I greatly appreciate these blogs. I’m in customer service and use some of these to help make people accept or understand what I’m saying/doing for them (or can’t do for them). This one is especially pertinent and useful. I know it’d not Michael’s intent but when you spend your days getting yelled at over things you had no control, you do what is necessary.
But thanks Michael!