Strategies of Counter-Framing

40 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2011

See all articles by Dennis Chong

Dennis Chong

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science

James N. Druckman

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: August 18, 2011

Abstract

Electoral campaigns and policy debates occur over-time. Throughout the campaign, competing sides push opposing frames and which frame proves most effective often determines who wins. Success hinges, in large part, on launching influential counter-frames – that is, frames that oppose earlier effective frames. Surprisingly, scholars have paid virtually no attention to the dynamics of counter-framing. In this paper, we explore how timing and repetition of counter-frames affect their success. Our results – based on an over-time experiment – show that the best counter-framing strategy is highly contingent on the nature of the respondents. For those who form initially strong opinions, the counter-frames are most effective when delayed in time, and perhaps surprisingly, not repeated. In contrast, the lag time between the initial frame and a counter-frame is irrelevant for those who form weak opinions, but repetition is often beneficial. Our findings highlight the contingent nature of successful framing and isolate sources of political power in campaigns.

Keywords: public opinion, framing effects, counter-framing, information processing

Suggested Citation

Chong, Dennis and Druckman, James N., Strategies of Counter-Framing (August 18, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1912083 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1912083

Dennis Chong (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science ( email )

601 University Place (Scott Hall)
Evanston, IL 60201
United States
847-491-2642 (Phone)

James N. Druckman

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science ( email )

601 University Place (Scott Hall)
Evanston, IL 60201
United States
847-491-7450 (Phone)

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