Emphasis Framing Effects in Political Communication: Disentangling the Effects of Thematic Information and Emphasis Frames and the Suppression of Issue-Specific Argument Effects through Value-Resonant Framing

Resource Type
  • Kaiser, Johannes
Publication Date
  • FORS - Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences
  • CESSDA Topics Classification:
    • Political behaviour and attitudes
  • Abstract

    The investigation of emphasis framing effects is one of the most often analyzed types of communicative influences on citizens’ attitudes within political communication research. A vast amount of empirical studies suggested that simple changes in the emphasis on a specific aspect of an issue or event can produce significantly different issue attitudes, which fostered discussions about citizens’ susceptibility to an irrational attitude formation under one-sided framing conditions. However, the empirical paradigm of researching emphasis framing effects has received important criticism in the last years. Most of this critique argues that the investigated frames have been often confounded with varying thematic information implying that the susceptibility to framing effects is overrated in the literature and could likewise originate from differing issue-specific information and not from the frame emphases themselves. Given that this critique would find empirical support and only varying thematic information would be responsible for framing effects, the found effects in the literature would imply that the attitudinal shifts are not irrational but the result of rationally learning from different thematic information. Moreover, the theoretical contribution of the emphasis framing approach would be seriously questioned and could be nothing more than the longstanding concept of persuasion based on the provision of new thematic information. In order to test whether emphasis frames exert unique effects on citizens’ issue attitudes, this study introduces the concept of salience emphasis frames as a type of framing that is not confounded with the provision of further issue-specific information but uses well-known and cross-thematic patterns of interpretation such as political values to contextualize thematic information. In addition, the study integrates the varying argument strength of thematic information and citizens’ political value preferences as two further variables that could condition the frame effect, which enables a test for salience emphasis framing effects in differently challenging situations.
Temporal Coverage
  • 2018
Geographic Coverage
  • Switzerland (CH)
  • German-speaking Switzerland
Time Dimension
  • Cross-section
Collection Mode
  • Self-administered questionnaire: Web-based
Academic research and teaching

Update Metadata: 2019-07-09 | Issue Number: 1 | Registration Date: 2019-07-09