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What is Frame Analysis?

By A. Garrett
Updated May 23, 2024
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Frame analysis, also referred to as framing analysis, examines how people interpret certain events or interactions. Although frame analysis is derived from communication theory, it has been used as a research method to examine how the media, politicians and civic leaders influence language and thought about a particular subject. Framing has also yielded a sub-category known as frame alignment.

Frames influence the way individuals perceive the world around them. Frame analysis seeks to identify how such frames are developed and explore their influence on society. These frames can be shaped by parents, peers, public figures and teachers. People conveying such frames present information in a manner that convinces the recipient to agree with the ideas or beliefs presented. This is done by purposely or unconsciously presenting facts or information in a manner favorable to one particularly viewpoint.

Using frame analysis, researchers can determine how the people who use such frames achieve accordance in opinion. According to authorities on frame analysis, framing works by first stating a position or presenting an argument about a certain subject or issue in a manner meant to excite or draw attention. Then, the frame presenter identifies the causes of such issues. According to frame analysis, once the problem and causes are demonstrated, the communicator presents his or her opinion and solution to such problems using facts favorable to his or her cause and downplaying or ignoring negative information.

The media is one outlet for communication that frame analysis has focused on. News outlets present stories and issues to the general public. Often, the context of the story and when and how it is presented influence how the public responds. This gives the media the power to influence how the events of the day are perceived. Journalists, politicians and other leaders can use the media in order to frame public perception.

Frame analysis focuses on the message, the deliverer of the message, the target audience for the message and the manner in which the message is presented. Someone who uses a figure of speech or manipulates information in a manner favorable to his or her position in order to influence the frame of the general public may be referred to as a spin doctor. According to frame analysis, spin doctors may use commonly heard figures of speech to mask the underlying message they are trying to deliver. Spin doctors may also hide negative facts by presenting them along with several positive facts.

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