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Title: Framing effects and context in language comprehension
Author: Fisher, Sarah
ISNI:       0000 0004 9356 1025
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2020
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Linguistic framing effects occur when audiences respond differently to the same information, just because of the wording the speaker used. For example, empirical research suggests that if a risky surgery is described in terms of the chance of surviving, people are more likely to go ahead than if it is described in terms of the chance of dying (Wilson, Kaplan, & Schneiderman, 1987). Advertisers, politicians, and rhetoricians have always intuitively understood that our judgements and decisions can be shaped by the words we use. Over the last fifty years, though, framing has become the subject of extensive scientific investigation, beginning with the publication in 1981 of 'The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice' by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. In the psychological literature, framing effects are standardly taken as evidence of humans' irrationality. My research challenges that interpretation. I identify a handful of semantic and pragmatic features of speakers' frames, which could explain why audiences form distinct representations of the situations being described. In other words, audiences may be tracking genuine differences in the meanings of alternative frames, rather than committing some sort of reasoning error. I also use framing research as an empirical case study, to inform philosophical understandings of the distinction between semantics and pragmatics. Turning to look beyond academic debates, I end by exploring speakers' and hearers' responsibilities for problematic framing in public discourse.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral