Skip to main content

Media Framing of a Civil Liberties Conflict and Its Effect on Tolerance

  • Thomas E. Nelson (a1), Rosalee A. Clawson (a2) and Zoe M. Oxley (a1)

Framing is the process by which a communication source, such as a news organization, defines and constructs a political issue or public controversy. Two experiments examined the effect of news frames on tolerance for the Ku Klux Klan. The first presented research participants with one of two local news stories about a Klan rally that varied by frame: One framed the rally as a free speech issue, and the other framed it as a disruption of public order. Participants who viewed the free speech story expressed more tolerance for the Klan than participants who watched the public order story. Additional data indicate that frames affect tolerance by altering the perceived importance of public order values. The relative accessibility of free speech and public order concepts did not respond to framing. A second experiment used a simulated electronic news service to present different frames and replicated these findings.

Hide All
Ajzen, Icek, and Fishbein, Martin. 1980. Understanding Attitudes and Predicting Social Behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Alvarez, R. Michael, and Brehm, John. 1995. “American Ambivalence towards Abortion Policy: Development of a Heteroskedastic Probit Model of Competing Values.” American Journal of Political Science 39(11):1055–82.
Anderson, Norman H. 1991. “Functional Memory in Person Cognition.” In Contributions to Information Integration Theory, Volume 1: Cognition, ed. Anderson, Norman H.. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Anderson, Norman H., and Zalinski, James. 1991. “Functional Measurement Approach to Self-Estimation in Multiattribute Evaluation.” In Contributions to Information Integration Theory, Volume 1: Cognition, ed. Anderson, Norman H.. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Ansolabehere, Stephen, Behr, Roy, and Iyengar, Shanto. 1993. The Media Game. New York: Macmillan.
Asher, Herbert B. 1983. Causal Modeling. 2d ed. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Bartels, Larry M. 1993. “Messages Received: The Political Impact of Media Exposure.” American Political Science Review 87(2):267–85.
Beck, Paul Allen, Dalton, Russell J., and Huckfeldt, Robert. 1995. “Political Intermediation in a Multi-Message Environment: The Case of the United States.” Paper presented at the meeting of the Cross-National Election Project, Columbus, Ohio.
Bennett, W. Lance. 1996. News: The Politics of Illusion. 3d ed. White Plains, NY: Longman.
Best, Joel, ed. 1995. Images of Issues: Typifying Contemporary Social Problems. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
Cacioppo, John T., and Berntson, Gary G.. 1994. “Relationship between Attitudes and Evaluative Space: A Critical Review, with Emphasis on the Separability of Positive and Negative Substrates.” Psychological Review 115(3):401–23.
Carroll, John S., and Johnson, Eric J.. 1990. Decision Research: A Field Guide. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Chong, Dennis. 1993. “How People Think, Reason and Feel about Rights and Liberties.” American Journal of Political Science 37(3): 867–99.
Converse, Philip E. 1964. “The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics.” In Ideology and Discontent, ed. Apter, David E.. New York: Free Press.
Edelman, Murray. 1993. “Contestable Categories and Public Opinion.” Political Communication 10(3):231–42.
Entman, Robert M. 1993. “Framing: Toward Clarification of a Fractured Paradigm.” Journal of Communication 43(4):51–8.
Ericsson, K. Anders, and Simon, Herbert A.. 1980. “Verbal Reports as Data.” Psychological Review 87(3):215–51.
Fazio, Russell H. 1990. “A Practical Guide to the Use of Response Latency in Social Psychological Research.” In Review of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 11: Research Methods in Personality and Social Psychology, ed. Hendrick, Clyde and Clark, Margaret S.. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Feldman, Stanley, and Zaller, John. 1992. “The Political Culture of Ambivalence: Ideological Responses to the Welfare State.” American Journal of Political Science 36(1):268307.
Fiske, Susan T., and Taylor, Shelley. 1991. Social Cognition. 2d ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Gamson, William A. 1992. Talking Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Gamson, William A., and Lasch, Katherine E.. 1983. “The Political Culture of Social Welfare Policy.” In Evaluating the Welfare State, ed. Spiro, Shimon E. and Yuchtman-Yaar, Ephraim. New York: Academic Press.
Gamson, William A., and Modigliani, Andre. 1987. “The Changing Culture of Affirmative Action.” Research in Political Sociology 3:137–77.
Gamson, William A., and Modigliani, Andre. 1989. “Media Discourse and Public Opinion on Nuclear Power: A Constructionist Approach.” American Journal of Sociology 95(1): 137.
Gibson, James L., and Bingham, Richard D.. 1985. Civil Liberties and Nazis: The Skokie Free Speech Controversy. New York: Praeger.
Graber, Doris A. 1993. Mass Media and American Politics. 4th ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Graber, Doris A. 1994. Media Power in Politics. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Gross, Kimberly A., and Kinder, Donald R.. 1996. “A Collision of Principles: Free Speech, Racial Egalitarianism, and the Prohibition of Racist Speech.” Presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, California.
Hanson, Russell L. 1993. “Deliberation, Tolerance, and Democracy.” In Reconsidering the Democratic Public, ed. Marcus, George E. and Hanson, Russell L.. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.
Hastie, Reid, and Park, Bernadette. 1986. “The Relationship between Memory and Judgments Depends on Whether the Task Is Memory-Based or On-Line.” Psychological Review 93(3):258–68.
Iyengar, Shanto. 1991. Is Anyone Responsible? Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Iyengar, Shanto, and Kinder, Donald. 1987. News That Matters. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Jacobs, Lawrence R., and Shapiro, Robert Y.. 1994. “Issues, Candidate Image, and Priming: The Use of Private Polls in Kennedy's 1960 Presidential Campaign.” American Political Science Review 88(3):527–40.
Kaniss, Phyllis C. 1991. Making Local News. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Katz, Irwin, and Hass, R. Glen. 1988. “Racial Ambivalence and American Value Conflict: Correlational and Priming Studies of Dual Cognitive Structures.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 55(12):893905.
Kelley, Harold H. 1973. “The Process of Causal Attribution.” American Psychologist 28(2): 107–28.
Kelley, Stanley, and Mirer, Thad. 1974. “The Simple Act of Voting.” American Political Science Review 61(2):572–91.
Kinder, Donald R., and Palfrey, Thomas R.. 1993. “On Behalf of an Experimental Political Science.” In Experimental Foundations of Political Science, ed. Kinder, Donald R. and Palfrey, Thomas R.. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Kinder, Donald R., and Sanders, Lynn M.. 1990. “Mimicking Political Debate with Survey Questions: The Case of White Opinion on Affirmative Action for Blacks.” Social Cognition 8(1):73103.
Kinder, Donald R., and Sanders, Lynn M.. 1996. Divided by Color: Racial Politics and Democratic Ideals. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Kinder, Donald R., and Sears, David O.. 1985. “Public Opinion and Political Action.” In The Handbook of Social Psychology, ed. Lindzey, Gardner and Aronson, Elliot. 4th ed. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Krosnick, Jon A., and Berent, Matthew K.. 1993. “Comparisons of Party Identification and Policy Preferences: The Impact of Survey Question Format.” American Journal of Political Science 37(3): 941–64.
Krosnick, Jon A., and Kinder, Donald R.. 1990. “Altering the Foundations of Support for the President through Priming.” American Political Science Review 84(2):497512.
Kuklinski, James H., Riggle, Ellen, Ottati, Victor, Schwarz, Norbert, and Wyer, Robert S. Jr. 1991. “The Cognitive and Affective Bases of Political Tolerance Judgments.” American Journal of Political Science 35(1):127.
Lane, Robert E. 1955. “Political Personality and Electoral Choice.” American Political Science Review 49(1):173–90.
Lodge, Milton, Steenbergen, Marco R., and Brau, Shawn. 1995. “The Responsive Voter: Campaign Information and the Dynamics of Candidate Evaluation.” American Political Science Review 89(2): 309–26.
Manis, Melvin, Shedler, Jonathan, Jonides, John, and Nelson, Thomas E.. 1993. “The Availability Heuristic in Judgments of Set-Size and Frequency of Occurrence.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 65(3):448–57.
Marcus, George E., Sullivan, John L., Theiss-Morse, Elizabeth, and Wood, Sandra L.. 1995. With Malice toward Some. New York: Cambridge University Press.
McConahay, John B., Hardee, Betty B., and Batts, Valerie. 1981. “Has Racism Declined in America? It Depends on Who Is Asking and What Is Asked.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 25(12):563–79.
McCombs, Maxwell E., and Shaw, Donald R.. 1972. “The Agenda-Setting Function of the Mass Media.” Public Opinion Quarterly 36(2):176–87.
McGuire, William J. 1985. “Attitudes and Attitude Change.” In The Handbook of Social Psychology, ed. Lindzey, Gardner and Aronson, Elliot. 4th ed. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Nelson, Thomas E., and Kinder, Donald R.. 1991. “Framing Effects Need Not Depend on Changes in Construct Accessibility.” Presented at the third annual meeting of the American Psychological Society, Washington, DC.
Nelson, Thomas E., and Kinder, Donald R.. 1996. “Issue Framing and Group-Centrism in American Public Opinion.” Journal of Politics 58(11): 1055–78.
Nelson, Thomas E., Oxley, Zoe M., Clawson, Rosalee A.. N.d. “Toward a Psychology of Framing Effects.” Political Behavior. Forthcoming.
Nisbett, Richard E., and Wilson, Timothy D.. 1977. “Telling More than We Can Know: Verbal Report on Mental Processes.” Psychological Review 84(3):231–59.
Page, Benjamin I., and Shapiro, Robert Y.. 1992. The Rational Public-Fifty Years of Trends in Americans' Policy Preferences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Pan, Zhongdang, and Kosicki, Gerald M.. 1993. “Framing Analysis: An Approach to News Discourse.” Political Communication 10(1): 5575.
Parenti, Michael. 1986. Inventing Reality. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Patterson, Thomas E. 1993. Out of Order. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Patterson, Thomas E., and McClure, Robert D.. 1976. The Unseeing Eye. New York: Putnam.
Rahn, Wendy M., Krosnick, Jon A., and Breuning, Marijke. 1994. “Rationalization and Derivation Processes in Survey Studies of Political Candidate Evaluation.” American Journal of Political Science 38(3):582600.
Rokeach, Milton. 1973. The Nature of Human Values. New York: Free Press.
Schneider, Anne, and Ingram, Helen. 1993. “Social Construction of Target Populations: Implications for Politics and Policy.” American Political Science Review 87(2):334–47.
Sears, David O. 1986. “College Sophomores in the Laboratory: Influences of a Narrow Data Base on Social Psychology's View of Human Nature.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 51(3):515–30.
Smith, Eric R. A. N. 1989. The Unchanging American Voter. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Stouffer, Samuel C. 1955. Communism, Conformity, and Civil Liberties. New York: Doubleday.
Sullivan, John L., Piereson, James E., and Marcus, George E.. 1982. Political Tolerance and American Democracy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Taylor, Shelly E., and Fiske, Susan T.. 1978. “Salience, Attention, and Attribution: Top of the Head Phenomena.” In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 11, ed. Berkowitz, Leonard. New York: Academic Press.
Tetlock, Philip E. 1986. “A Value Pluralism Model of Ideological Reasoning.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 50(4): 819–27.
Thompson, Megan M., Zanna, Mark P., and Griffin, Dale W.. 1995. “Let's Not Be Indifferent about (Attitudinal) Ambivalence.” In Attitude Strength: Antecedents and Consequences, ed. Petty, Richard E. and Krosnick, Jon A.. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Van der Pligt, Joop, and Eiser, J. Richard. 1984. “Dimensional Salience, Judgment, and Attitudes.” In Attitudinal Judgment, ed. Eiser, J. Richard. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Zaller, John R. 1992. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Zaller, John R., and Feldman, Stanley. 1992. “A Simple Theory of the Survey Response: Answering Questions Versus Revealing Preferences.” American Journal of Political Science 36(3):579616.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed