Updated: August 10, 2023
Framing is a tactic used to adjust how an audience perceives an issue.
Framing uses careful words or image choices to characterize an issue. Typically, words or images are chosen that trigger strong positive or negative emotions and apply them to an issue.
Find beliefs, ideas the audience (who you want to persuade) has a strong positive or negative feeling about.
Find words or images that encapsulate those ideas
Apply those words to the issue at hand
For example: For an audience of pro-gun owners who are anti-government regulation: gun control triggers the idea of being controlled.
Framing by re-titling an issue
In politics, framing the same issue by titling it with different words is commonplace
Global warming vs. climate change
Gun control vs. gun rights
The goal is to appeal or trigger your audience’s existing biases around a particular word. In Global Warming, it is implied the entire globe is getting hotter. In climate change, it is vaguer: the climate is changing.
Framing is more than just titling an issue. Framing can alter how an audience views an issue.
In the USA-based debate about whether women should lawfully be allowed to gain an abortion, Pete Buttigieg (democrat) successfully framed the debate for a republican audience on Fox News.
The typical democratic framing was: it is a women’s right to choose.
Pete Buttigieg framed that belief differently for Fox News, arguing (paraphrasing), “I don’t believe a bureaucrat should be making decisions for women.”
The subtle difference in frame successfully resonates with an audience who already believes in small government.
He received a standing ovation from the Fox News audience.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQAuuVBFi6I
George Lakoff - https://george-lakoff.com/
George Lakoff is the Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society, Retired Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics.