Sophie Lecheler

Sophie Lecheler

  • University of Amsterdam
Participant in 2006

Phd Projects

2006

Framing Politics

The framing of politics by political elites and the media are key resources for citizens’ sense-making of political issues and processes. Citizens make use of shortcuts and heuristics when making judgments about politics and these shortcuts are fed by information from political actors and the media. Framing theory is used as a conceptual framework to understand how citizens make sense of politics. In the context of contemporary Dutch and European politics, this project investigates the presence and effects of frames in political news. The proposed research project seeks to a) elaborate on a typology of frames and framing effects, b) test the effects of different frames for different individuals, and c) investigate the longevity and conditionality of framing effects. In short, a frame is an emphasis in salience of different aspects of a topic. This project conceptualizes framing as a process that includes production, content, and media use perspectives. This dynamic process involves frame-building (how frames emerge) and frame-setting (the interplay between media frames and audience predispositions). In order to synthesize previous research and the different types of news frames that have been suggested, a more general typology or distinction with reference to the nature and content of the frame is applied. Certain frames are pertinent only to specific topics or events. Such frames may be labeled issue-specific frames. Other frames transcend thematic limitations and can be identified in relation to different topics, some even over time and in different cultural contexts. These frames can be labeled generic frames. This typology serves to organize past framing research focusing on differences that help explain the use of the catch-all ‘framing’ phrase. Effects of frames have been demonstrated for a variety of topics, but research has also shown that the magnitude of framing effects may vary depending on the issue at stakes. Moreover, there is little agreement on how framing effects work. In the present project one of the most contentious issues in framing effects research is addressed; the psychological responses to news frames. Reviewing the existing literature, two strands of research addressing the effects of frames can be distinguished: framing as an accessibility effect and framing as a consideration salience effect. This project elaborates on previous research by assessing the cognitive accessibility of concepts related to the experimentally manipulated news stories as well as assessing the salience attached to considerations emphasized by a particular news framing. Both of these potential routes of influence are assessed as well as the potentially direct, and unmediated influence that frames can have on political attitudes. The literature on framing effects implies that the impact of certain news frames may be persistent, but little prior research has investigated the longevity and robustness of these effects. In short, previous studies investigating the effects of the frames have not been able to address the longevity of such effects. Thus, the longevity of framing effects shall be a third objective of this project. To put the expectations to test this project relies on media content analysis and experimentation. The study will investigate the framing of different political issues.

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