The power of moral framing

L. Randall Wray | September 14, 2011

Here is an excerpt from the most important article you will read this year, by George Lakoff:

Here’s how public intimidation by framing works.

The mechanism of intimidation is framing, not just the use of words or slogans, but rather the changing of what voters take as right as a matter of principle. Framing is much more than mere language or messaging. A frame is a conceptual structure used to think with. Frames come in hierarchies. At the top of the hierarchies are moral frames. All politics is moral. Politicians support policies because they are right, not wrong. The problem is that there is more than one conception of what is moral. Moreover, voters tend to vote their morality, since it is what defines their identity. Poor conservatives vote against their material interests, but for their moral identity.

All language activates frames in the brain. Conservative language activates conservative frames, which activate conservative moral worldviews in the brains of those who hear the language. The more those frames are activated, the stronger the conservative moral views get in people’s brains.

Please go to this link, read the article, and then we will discuss it.  (Continued at EconoMonitor…)


2 Responses to “The power of moral framing”

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  1. Comment by Ken Bernsohn — September 14, 2011 at 4:34 pm   Reply

    The important important article for whom? Not for a professional or avid amateur football player, not for a city sewage worker, not for someone who is sick with a disease and worries about experimental drugs. Not for a wine maker. the list goes on and on.
    This may be an important article for people who are involved in politics or who worry about politics. Whether it is the most important article of the year will have to wait for year end. there’s going to be a lot written before then.

  2. Comment by Richard van Pelt — March 9, 2013 at 1:25 pm   Reply

    This may be a year and a half late, but for what it’s worth: Lakoff’s frames are important for the sewage worker, the sick, and all of us. Frames shade and redefine words we use to affect public policy formation. If taxes are about “your money” that is taken by the government, then the frame affects how you see yourself vis a vis the government – negatively. Now if you took that same frame and applied it to how and what you contribute to your family or community, it comes across as distinctly selfish. And alienating.

    Frames put you in or out of the picture and that affects how you think about the subject.

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