Judgment and Decision Making (Jul 2013)

Is a picture worth a thousand words? The interaction of visual display and attribute representation in attenuating framing bias}

  • Eyal Gamliel,
  • Hamutal Kreiner

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 4
pp. 482 – 491


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The attribute framing bias is a well-established phenomenon, in which an object or an event is evaluated more favorably when presented in a positive frame such as ``the half full glass'' than when presented in the complementary negative framing. Given that previous research showed that visual aids can attenuate this bias, the current research explores the factors underlying the attenuating effect of visual aids. In a series of three experiments, we examined how attribute framing bias is affected by two factors: (a) The display mode---verbal versus visual; and (b) the representation of the critical attribute---whether one outcome, either the positive or the negative, is represented or both outcomes are represented. In Experiment 1 a marginal attenuation of attribute framing bias was obtained when verbal description of either positive or negative information was accompanied by corresponding visual representation. In Experiment 2 similar marginal attenuation was obtained when both positive and negative outcomes were verbally represented. In Experiment 3, where the verbal description represented both positive and negative outcomes, significant attenuation was obtained when it was accompanied by a visual display that represented a single outcome, and complete attenuation, totally eliminating the framing bias, was obtained when it was accompanied by a visual display that represented both outcomes. Thus, our findings showed that interaction between the display mode and the representation of the critical attribute attenuated the framing bias. Theoretical and practical implications of the interaction between verbal description, visual aids and representation of the critical attribute are discussed, and future research is suggested.