Framing (Persuasion)

Created: March 22, 2023
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.

Framing Tactics

  1. Find beliefs, ideas the audience (who you want to persuade) has a strong positive or negative feeling about.

  2. Find words or images that encapsulate those ideas

  3. 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 debates

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:

Further Reading

The Power of Framing - The Guardian

Don’t Think of an Elephant. Know your values and frame the debate - George Lakoff.


George Lakoff -

George Lakoff is the Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society, Retired Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics.