The interplay of news frames on cognitive complexity

Dhavan V. Shah, Nojin Kwak, Mike Schmierbach, Jessica Zubric

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


This research considers how distinct news frames work in combination to influence information processing. It extends framing research grounded in prospect theory (Tversky & Kahneman, 1981) and attribution theory (Iyengar, 1991) to study conditional framing effects on associative memory. Using a 2 × 3 experimental design embedded within a probability survey (N = 379), tests examined the effects of two different frame dimensions - loss-gain and individual-societal - on the complexity of individuals' thoughts concerning the issue of urban growth. Findings indicate that news frames interact to generate more or less complex cognitive responses, with societal-gain frame combinations generating the most detailed cognitions about the causes, components, and consequences of urban growth. Directions for research on media framing are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-120
Number of pages19
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


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