It seems crazy, but it’s true.
The exact same product, with the exact same functions and statistics will yield varying results depending on how it’s first introduced.
As demonstrated in a research study led by Benedetto De Martino from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at Cambridge University, ‘human choices are remarkably susceptible to the manner in which options are presented. This so-called “framing effect” represents a striking violation of standard economic accounts of human rationality, although its underlying neurobiology is not understood.’
The human brain will process any given situation in relation to the circumstances around which it is presented, also known as the frame.
This explains why “getting dumped” feels worse than “breaking up,” even though both phrases are used to refer to the ending of a romantic relationship.
Dumping will likely make you think of trash by association, as opposed to breaking, which is generally a natural reaction to undue pressure. One implies worthlessness in the individual, whereas the other softens the blow by focusing on outside forces.
By the same logic, a “99% rate of success” is more appealing than a “1% rate of failure” because the former is framed by desirable circumstances.
A glass that’s half full implies that there’s room for more but one that’s half empty might induce some panic because now you’re thinking of diminishing resources!
How is framing useful in your everyday life?
1. Communication Tool.
Words are powerful and the manner in which we use them will invariably affect the outcome of our communication efforts.
The words that you choose to describe a given idea or situation will frame the context in which it’s perceived and determine whether the listener will receive your message favorably or not if they don’t dismiss it altogether.
Framing goes beyond individual words and vocabulary, however. You can use stories to put across your message, shared experiences as well as images, contrasts, and comparisons.
As an example, the unprecedented success of the iPod is generally linked to Steve Jobs’ famous presentation of “1000 songs in your pocket,” which customers understood and related to more easily than the more technical description of its selling point, that is, “1 GB of storage space.”
2. Coping Mechanism.
When we face challenges and shortcomings in life, the stories that we tell ourselves and the meanings that we choose to attach to the situation ultimately determine how crushed we are, and how soon we are able to move on and push forward, if at all.
Was it a mistake or a learning experience? Is the negative feedback you received a confirmation of your lack of skill or an opportunity to get better? Does a failed relationship mean you’re unlovable or just incompatible with that one person?
No matter what situation you’re dealing with, how you frame it will determine how you feel about it and the resulting decisions you’ll make, so choose wisely.