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School of Business | Department of Economics | Economics | 2013
Thesis number: 13423
Why framing your question is important? - A simple experiment with text messages
Author: Amanolahi, Bagher
Title: Why framing your question is important? - A simple experiment with text messages
Year: 2013  Language: eng
Department: Department of Economics
Academic subject: Economics
Index terms: kansantaloustiede; economics; tutkimusmenetelmät; research methods; kyselyt; questionnaire; käyttäytyminen; behaviour; käyttäytymisen taloustiede; behavioral economics
Pages: 75
Key terms: framing; persuasion; field experiment; behavioral economics
Behavioral studies indicate that the way in which a message is framed affects greatly the amount of persuasion it elicits. There are various modes of message production that have been suggested to account for the difference in feedback between framed messages (e.g. Tversky & Kahneman, 1981; Rothman et. al., 1999; Johnson & Goldstein, 2003; Salovey & Williams-Piehota, 2004).

Framing of messages is vital to the outcome that the message sender pre-proposes. The layout of messages at the most basic level can largely influence the kind of response that is received. Text-messages are so embedded in our everyday lives as a fast, short and effective way of communication that they seem somehow unable to sway their receiver significantly or provide a great amount of influential potential. However as this field experiment shows, a message - as simple as a text-message - framed differently will in fact yield different results.

In the experiment, three differently framed text-messages were sent to three groups of participants with different social background. Through the experience of framing messages and general social- and cultural awareness, the author of this experiment had already taken into consideration the intended impact of each message, and hypothesized which message would be most effective considering the process of how the messages were sent. The results implied significant framing effect and highlighted the culture-sensitive nature of framing.

This experiment showed that not only the framing of the message is important, but also the audience selection as well as the understanding of the dependent and independent variables that may sway the responses. Most importantly, the manipulation of the text-messages showed that different communities or groups of individuals may respond differently to the same given message, whereas a neutral, somewhat unbiased, message would suit all - but not necessarily persuade all.

In the discussion area, some of the social and cultural variables are analyzed. Importantly, discussion is made about the varied responses to a varied identity. As a policy proposition, for most successful message framing to be applied, the message should always be targeted to a sample group with highest possibility of a positive outcome. In case that is not feasible, e.g. due to lack of information, one should neutralize the message as much as possible to accustom all types of people.
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