A Rational Account of (Some) Framing Effects
Craig R. M. McKenzie
Department of Psychology, UC San Diego , USA
Framing effects are said to occur when equivalent redescriptions of events, objects, or outcomes lead to systematically different behavior. Such effects are considered classic examples of irrationality. However, the most stringent tests have used logically equivalent frames, and we argue that logical equivalence is not sufficient for making the claim that framing effects are irrational. Instead, we argue that information equivalence is required: Listeners should not be able to make choice-relevant inferences from a speaker’s choice of frame. We show that many frames used in the literature are not equivalent in this sense and therefore do not demonstrate irrationality. Empirical evidence is provided showing that a speaker’s choice of frame can leak choice-relevant information and that listeners absorb this information. Information leakage provides a rational account of many framing effects.