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Unformatted text preview: Annu. Rev. Polit. Sci. 2007. 10:103–26 doi: 10.1146/annurev.polisci.10.072805.103054 Copyright c ° 2007 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved F RAMING T HEORY Dennis Chong and James N. Druckman Department of Political Science, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208; email: [email protected]; [email protected] Key Words framing, public opinion, political preferences, political communication, content analysis ■ Abstract We review the meaning of the concept of framing, approaches to study- ing framing, and the effects of framing on public opinion. After defining framing and framing effects, we articulate a method for identifying frames in communication and a psychological model for understanding how such frames affect public opinion. We also discuss the relationship between framing and priming, outline future research directions, and describe the normative implications of framing. INTRODUCTION The economist Albert Hirschman once noted that having opinions might be es- sential to a person’s well being. A person should hold opinions of his own and cannot have self-respect without opinions that define and identify him. Hirschman (1989, p. 76) wrote, “Vacillation, indifference, or weakly held opinions have long met with utmost contempt, while approval and admiration have been bestowed on firmness, fullness, and articulation of opinion.” Despite Hirschman’s ideal of firm, full, articulate opinions, from the earliest days of public opinion research, citizens have been found to have low-quality opinions, if they have opinions at all. In the public opinion literature, high-quality opinions are usually defined as being stable, consistent, informed, and connected to abstract principles and values. The general conclusion among scholars is that such opinions are rare in the mass public (e.g., Converse 1964, Zaller 1992). Early studies of mass public opinion conducted in the 1950s and 1960s raised se- rious doubts about the competence of citizens to participate in political affairs. On the whole, citizens were woefully uninformed about the institutions of American government, political office holders, and contemporary political issues. Their views on issues were superficial and unconnected to overarching principles such as lib- eralism or conservatism. When asked the same policy questions at different points in time, their answers displayed little stability. Their support for basic democratic values was fragile. Individuals endorsed democratic values such as free speech and free association when these principles were stated in abstract honorific terms, but they failed to defend the application of these rights in specific circumstances....
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- Frame, Cornell University, Rev. Polit, Dennis Chong