Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 12 > Issue 1

Assessing the Breadth of Framing Effects

Daniel J. Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania, USA, danhop@sas.upenn.edu , Jonathan Mummolo, Stanford University, USA, jmummolo@stanford.edu
Suggested Citation
Daniel J. Hopkins and Jonathan Mummolo (2017), "Assessing the Breadth of Framing Effects", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 12: No. 1, pp 37-57. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00015139

Publication Date: 16 May 2017
© 2017 D. J. Hopkins and J. Mummolo
Public opinion,  Voting behavior,  Behavioral Decision Making,  Electoral Behavior,  Political Psychology
Framing effectsSpilloverIdeologyPersuasionSurvey experiment


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In this article:
Prior Research and Hypotheses 
Are Framing Effects Narrow or Broad? 
Research Design and Methods 
Outcomes and Experimental Design 


Issue frames are a central concept in studying public opinion, and are thought to operate by foregrounding related considerations in citizens' minds. But scholarship has yet to consider the breadth of framing effects by testing whether frames influence attitudes beyond the specific issue they highlight. For example, does a discussion of terrorism affect opinions on proximate issues like crime or even more remote issues like poverty? By measuring the breadth of framing effects, we can assess the extent to which citizens' political considerations are cognitively organized by issues. We undertake a population-based survey experiment with roughly 3,300 respondents which includes frames related to terrorism, crime, health care, and government spending. The results demonstrate that framing effects are narrow, with limited but discernible spillover on proximate, structurally similar issues. Discrete issues not only organize elite politics but also exist in voters' minds, a finding with implications for studying ideology as well as framing.