Framing Theory in the Social Sciences

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Framing Theory in the Social Sciences
Political Science 793, Winter 2010
Professor Robert Axelrod

Tuesdays 3-5 in 5240 Weill Hall

Office hours: Wednesdays 3-5 in 4116 Weill Hall

A frame is the context used to make sense out of a situation. For example, President Obama in his inaugural address framed the current economic situation in terms of “an army by a cold river in the American Revolution.” This suggested that just as we overcame that hardship because of our values, so too can we overcome our current crisis since our fundamental values are intact. An alternative frame would have been the Great Depression of the Thirties.

The research seminar will be thoroughly interdisciplinary because theories and evidence of how frames work come from many disciplines. Examples include:
Political science (campaign politics and foreign policy decision making),

Cognitive psychology (e.g. sensemaking, attribution, and inference),

Social psychology (e.g. cognitive consistency and social influence),

Anthropology (e.g., shared culture and ethnocentrism),

Economics (e.g. the “hidden hand” frame),

Business (especially advertising),

Sociology (e.g., social mobilization), and

Artificial Intelligence (case-based reasoning).

Across disciplines, framing helps us understand topics such as leadership, learning, preference formation providing input to rational choice, alternatives to rationality (such as obligation), terrorist recruitment, the power of sacred values, use of historical analogies, and dynamics of identity.

The course will require several short papers, and a major research paper. Students will be encouraged to select a research topic that might be relevant to their dissertation. The research paper is due April 27.

There are no prerequisites except second year standing. The course is offered for three credits. Students should purchase Yuen Foong Khong, Analogies at War (1992).

1. Introduction to Frames, Jan. 12.

2. Alternative Approaches Frames, Jan. 19.

Goffman, Erving. 1974. Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience.

Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Pp. 1-20. On the organization of experience.

Tversky, Amos and Daniel Kahneman. 1981. “The Framing of Decisions and the

Psychology of Choice.Science 211(4481): 453-458. On gains vs. losses.

Chin, John. 2008. "The Power of Framing and Framing Power: A Literature Review."


Dickerson, Donna L. 2001. “Framing ‘Political Correctness’: The New York Times Tale

of Two Professors.” In Framing Public Life : Perspectives on Media and Our Understanding of the Social World, eds. Stephen D. Reese, Oscar H. Gandy, and August E. Grant. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Pp. 163-174. On how the media frames issues.

Boettcher III, William A. 2004. “The Prospects for Prospect Theory: An Empirical

Evaluation of International Relations Applications of Framing and Loss Aversion.” Political Psychology 25(3): 331-362. Skim details of the experiments on political applications of prospect theory.

Hemmer, Christopher M. 2000. Which Lessons Matter? American Foreign Policy

Decision Making in the Middle East. New York: State University of New York Press. Pp. 1-12. On whether frames determine interests or vice versa.

Benford, Robert D. and David A. Snow. 2000. “Framing Processes and Social

Movements: An Overview and Assessment.” Annual Review of Sociology 26: 611-639. On framing for social mobilization.

Ostrom, Elinor, 1990. Governing the Commons. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1-46. On how reframing a problem (such as management of a common pool resource) with a new theory suggests the questions to be asked and the things to look for.

Shui, Simon C.K., and Sankar K. Pal. 2004. "Case-Based Reasoning: Concepts, Features and Soft Computing." Applied Intelligence 21 (3):233-8. Section 3 can be skimmed.

3. Analogies at War, Jan. 26.

Khong, Yuen Foong. 1992. Analogies at War: Korea, Munich, Dien Bien Phu, and the

Vietnam Decisions of 1965. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Pp. 1-96 and 174-263.

Harwood, John. 2009. "Obama Rejects Afghanistan-Vietnam Comparison." New York

Times, 15 September. Obama gives three lessons of Vietnam that he thinks about “all the time,” while denying you can step in the same river twice.

Kruglanski, Arie W., Martha Crenshaw, Jerrold M. Post, and Jeff Victoroff. 2008. “What

Should This Fight Be Called? Metaphors of Counterterrorism and Their Implications.Psychological Science in the Public Interest 8(3): 97–133. You may skim pages 110-123.

Hehir, Aidan. 2006. “The Impact of Analogical Reasoning on US Foreign Policy

Towards Kosovo.Journal of Peace Research 43(1): 67-81.

4. Sensemaking, Feb. 2.

Weick, Karl E. 1993. “The Collapse of Sensemaking in Organizations: The Mann Gulch

Disaster.” Administrative Science Quarterly 38(4): 628-652. What can happen when sensemaking fails.

Chambers, Daniel and Deborah Reisberg. 1985. “Can mental images be ambiguous?”

Journal of Experimental Psychology 11(3): 317-328. Experiments showing that people have a hard time reversing their mental images of ambiguous figures even with hints, coaching, and training.

Beunza, Daniel, and Raghu Garud. 2007. "Calculators, Lemmings or Frame-makers? The

Intermediary Role of Securities Analysts." Sociological Review 55(2):13-39. On the huge value of viewing Amazon 1998 as an internet company like Dell rather than a book retailer like Barnes and Noble.

Perrow, Charles. 1984. Normal Accidents. New York: Basic Books. Pp. 208-31.

On how failures of sensemaking are promoted by complex interacting systems, using examples of collisions at sea.

Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of

Chicago Press. Pp. 223-37. On self-understanding as a search for appropriate metaphors to make sense of our lives.

Tversky, Amos. 1977. “Features of Similarity.Psychological Review 84(4): 327-352.

5. Persuasion, Feb. 9.

Chong, Dennis, and James N. Druckman. 2007. "Framing Theory." Annual Review of

Political Science 10: 103-126.

Chong, Dennis, and James N. Druckman. 2007. "Framing Public Opinion in Competitive

Democracies." The American Political Science Review 101(4): 637-55.

Fisher, Roger and William Ury. 1991. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without

Giving In, 2nd Edition. New York: Penguin Books. Pp. 189-98. Outline of leading book on how to bargain.

Atran, Scott, Robert Axelrod, and Richard Davis. 2007. "Sacred Barriers to Conflict

Resolution." Science 317:1039-40.

Atran, Scott, and Robert Axelrod. 2008. "Reframing Sacred Values." Negotiation Journal


Mullainathan, Sendhil, Joshua Schwartzstein, and Andrei Shleifer. 2008. "Coarse

Thinking and Persuasion." The Quarterly Journal of Economics 123(2): 577-99. On persuasion via classification.

Tsai, Shu-pei. 2007. “Message Framing Strategy for Brand Communication.” Journal of Advertising Research 47(3): 364-377. On advertizing.

6. Case-Based Reasoning, Feb. 16.

Axelrod, Robert (PI) with co-PI’s Scott Atran, Richard Davis, and Jeremy Ginges. 2009.

"Case-Based Influence in Conflict Management: A Proposal to the Air Force Office of Scientific Research."

Watson, Ian. 1997. Applying Case-Based Reasoning: Techniques for Enterprise Systems.

San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Inc. Pp. 15-38. An introduction.

Pal, Sankar K. and Simon C.K. Shiu, 2004. Foundations of Soft Case-Based Reasoning. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Pp. xvii-xx, 1-43, and 75-80. A good textbook.

Aha, David W. 1998. "The Omnipresence of Case-Based Reasoning in Science and

Application." Knowledge-Based Systems 11 (5-6): 261-73.

7. Advanced Case-Based Reasoning, Feb. 23.

Ros, Raquel, Josep Lluís Arcos, Ramon Lopez de Mantaras, and Manuela Veloso. 2009.

"A Case-Based Approach for Coordinated Action Selection in Robot Soccer." Artificial Intelligence 173 (9):1014-39. How to reuse and adapt experience in a real-time noisy multi-player competitive setting.

von Helversen, Bettina and Jorg Rieskamp. 2009. “Models of Quantitative Estimations:

Rule-Based and Exemplar-Based Processes Compared.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 35(4): 867-889. On how the structure of the outside world affects whether rules or cases are used to learn from experience.

Perner, Petra. 2008. “Case-Based Reasoning and the Statistical Challenges.” In Advances

in Case-Based Reasoning, eds. Klaus-Dieter Althoff, Ralph Bergmann, Mirjam Minor, and Alexandre Hanft. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag. Pp. 430-443. On bridging the gap between the CBR community and the statistics community, including concepts of similarity, memory organization, CBR learning, and case-base maintenance.

8. Emotion, March 9.

Westen, Drew. 2007. The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of

the Nation. Cambridge: Public Affairs. Pp. ix-xv and 3-88. On the role of emotional appeals in political campaigns.

Marcus, George E., W. Russell Neuman, and Michael MacKuen. 2000. Affective

Intelligence and Political Judgment. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Pp. 1-44, 65-94, and 126-140. On emotions as an important part of intelligence.

De Martino, B., Dharshan Kumaran, Ben Seymour, and Raymond J. Dolan. 2006.

“Frames, Biases, and Rational Decision-Making in the Human Brain.” Science 313(5787): 684-87. Brain imaging shows emotional involvement in framing gains and losses.

9. Bias and Rationality, March 16.

Tversky, Amos, and Daniel Kahneman. 27 September 1974. "Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases." Science 185:1124-31.

Gilovich, Thomas, and Dale Griffen. 2002. "Introduction - Heuristics and Biases: Then and Now." In Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment, ed. T. Gilovich, D. Griffin and D. Kahneman. Eds. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Vertzberger, Yaacov Y.I. 1990. The World In Their Minds. Stanford, CA: Stanford

University Press. Pp. 323-41. On biases in information processing.

Dawes, Robyn M., David Faust, and Paul E. Meehl. 1989. "Clinical Versus Actuarial Judgment." Science 243 (4899):1668-74.

Cardie, Claire. 2000. "A Cognitive Bias Approach to Feature Selection and Weighting for

Case-Based Learners." Machine Learning 41(1):85-116.

Bacharach, Michael. 2006. Beyond Individual Choice. Princeton: Princeton University

Press. Pp. 1-23, 32-34, and 69-94. On how rationality in game theory relies on framing the self as part of a group.

Bednar, Jenna and Scott Page. 2007. “Can Game(s) Theory Explain Culture? The

Emergence of Cultural Behavior Within Multiple Games.” Rationality and Society 19(1): 65-97. On how experience in one setting leads to what might look like irrational behavior in another setting.

10. Frames in the Media, March 23.

Lakoff, George. 2008. The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 21st-century

Politics with an 18th-century Brain. New York: Viking. Pp. 1-15, 43-91, 117-23, 169-75, and 209-21. The politics of liberal vs. conservative frames, and why social change needs more than appeals to rationality.

Hertog, James K. and Douglas M. McLeod. 2001. “A Multiperspectival Approach to

Framing Analysis: A Field Guide.” In Framing Public Life: Perspectives on Media and Our Understanding of the Social World, eds. Stephen D. Reese, Oscar H. Gandy, and August E. Grant. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Pp. 139-161. On framing in the news media as a cultural rather than cognitive phenomena.

Miller, M. Mark and Bonnie P. Riechert. 2001. “The Spiral of Opportunity and Frame

Resonance: Mapping the Issue Cycle in News and Public Discourse.” In Framing Public Life: Perspectives on Media and Our Understanding of the Social World, eds. Stephen D. Reese, Oscar H. Gandy, and August E. Grant. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Pp. 107-121. An example of automatic content analysis of framing.

Menashe, Claudia L. 1998. “The Power of a Frame: An Analysis of Newspaper Coverage

of Tobacco Issues-United States, 1985-1996.” Journal of Health Communication 3(4): p. 307-325.

Durham, Frank D. 2001. “Breaching Powerful Boundaries: A Postmodern Critique of

Framing.” In Framing Public Life: Perspectives on Media and Our Understanding of the Social World, eds. Stephen D. Reese, Oscar H. Gandy, and August E. Grant. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Pp. 123-136. A big-picture view of framing.
11-14. Student Reports; March 30, April 6, 14 and 20.
Course evaluations are to be submitted on-line April 9 to April 21.
The research paper is due April 27.

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