Framing effect

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Framing effect

How a decision is framed, changes what you choose.

Kahneman, D., Tversky, A. (1981) The framing of decisions and the psychology of choice


The backstory


Which would you choose:

  • A medical treatment with a 70% survival rate?

  • Or a treatment with a 30% mortality rate?

  • A product with 80% effectiveness, or a product that failed 2 out of every 10 uses?

  • A glass half full, or a glass half empty?

Each choice is identical. But in each case, you are more likely to choose the first. The use of different words, settings and context have a powerful effect on decision makers. It causes us to choose one over the other, just by how they are presented.Framing is one of the strongest biases in decision making.There are three framing types1:

Risky choice framing.

People choose riskier framed options when faced with negative choices.2

Attribute framing.

People choose options where more preferable characteristics of the object or outcome are highlighted. (e.g. choosing survival rate over mortality rate)

Goal framing.

The goal of an action is highlighted over the outcomes. (e.g. we forgo a gain than sustain an equivalent loss.)


Start using Choice Closure


Ask yourself:

What if the idea celebrated the advantages?
What if you make an option look riskier by using negative language?
What if you used positive language?
What if you create similarly by showing similar beliefs, attitudes and language?

Learn more


Read paper: Druckman, J. (2001). Evaluating framing effects

Read paper: Tversky, A., Kahneman, D. The Framing of decisions and the psychology of choice

Read paper: Guo, L., Trueblood, J., Diederich, A. Thinking Fast Increases Framing Effects in Risky Decision Making




1. Levin, I. P., Schneider, S. L., & Gaeth, G. J. (1998). All frames are not created equal: A typology and critical analysis of framing effects. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 76(2), 149–188.

2. Peters, E., Levin, I. (2008) Dissecting the risky-choice framing effect: Numeracy as an individual-difference factor in weighting risky and riskless options. Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 3, no. 6, August 2008, pp. 435-448