Framing

Definition

Some say that Framing is the most powerful of all persuasion principles.

The Frame is “the information around the information” rather than the information itself.

For example, if one were to sell a painting on the street and the same painting in a swanky gallery, the “frame” or context of that presentation would have a huge impact on how one would perceive it.

There are situational frames as demonstrated above, but frames are also created by our culture and our past life experience. If a woman has only had negative experiences with men, when a man comes up to talk to her, she will interpret that information based on the frame created by her past experience.

The effect of this frame can be so powerful that the man could say quite sincerely, “I think you are very beautiful” and she might interpret it as manipulation or sarcasm.

After reading this one might think that a Frame is a set and static thing, but it’s actually quite changable.

In fact, “re-framing” is an extremely useful skill to master. Just by re-phrasing something, or putting a different context around it, you can get someone to see a situation very differently.

For example, if you were a man and you invited a woman to your apartment, what would the average person think?

If you invited her up to sign a contract to purchase the apartment, that would be a very different situation altogether — it puts a different frame on the very same observation.

Knowing this, people often lie about the context of a situation in order to persuade someone to believe a particular interpretation of events. If in the above case the boyfriend of the woman observed her going up to your apartment and inquired about it, a deceptive persuader could say, “Dude, she was just picking up the assignment from the class we’re taking together.”

The event, while untrue, forms a more persuasive approach than saying “nothing happened!” by creating a new frame around the event.

But one does not have to lie in order to re-frame. Sometimes all you have to do is change the language you use.

For example, there is really no difference between a “freedom fighter” or an “insurgent” but one sounds far more acceptable than the other. A freedom fighter is simply an insurgent with whose agenda we agree.

When the military doesn’t want to admit defeat it calls a “retreat” a “retrograde operation.”

As this material is being put together, the US presidential election campaigns for the 2008 election are in full swing. Recently Hillary Clinton tried to re-frame the public’s perception of her and her opponent, Barak Obama, by pointing out the youthful “inexperience” of Obama. She tried to paint herself as having significant experience in handling adversity by telling the story of landing in Kosovo under sniper fire. A very effective reframe, if only it were true. When this video was recently uncovered, it was found that rather than landing “under sniper fire” during her trip to Kosovo she even had enough time to kiss a young girl on the tarmac:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOsGo_HWP-c

Some would argue that every other persuasion tactic listed here is just one flavor or another of frame manipulation.

What do you think?