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ERIC Number: EJ1090038
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Feb
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Framing Effects Are Robust to Linguistic Disambiguation: A Critical Test of Contemporary Theory
Chick, Christina F.; Reyna, Valerie F.; Corbin, Jonathan C.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v42 n2 p238-256 Feb 2016
Theoretical accounts of risky choice framing effects assume that decision makers interpret framing options as extensionally equivalent, such that if 600 lives are at stake, saving 200 implies that 400 die. However, many scholars have argued that framing effects are caused, instead, by filling in pragmatically implied information. This linguistic ambiguity hypothesis is grounded in neo-Gricean pragmatics, information leakage, and schema theory. In 2 experiments, we conducted critical tests of the linguistic ambiguity hypothesis and its relation to framing. We controlled for this crucial implied information by disambiguating it using instructions and detailed examples, followed by multiple quizzes. After disambiguating missing information, we presented standard framing problems plus truncated versions, varying types of missing information. Truncations were also critical tests of prospect theory and fuzzy trace theory. Participants were not only college students, but also middle-age adults (who showed similar results). Contrary to the ambiguity hypothesis, participants who interpreted missing information as complementary to stated information nonetheless showed robust framing effects. Although adding words like "at least" can change interpretations of framing information, this form of linguistic ambiguity is not necessary to observe risky choice framing effects.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (DHHS)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York
Grant or Contract Numbers: R21CA149796; R01NR01436801