Do Stereotypes Use Framing Effects?

Standard living with media or Stereotypes using Framing effects?

Picture yourself in a situation. You are given two choices and you must choose one. Situation A: You won a lifelong vacation.

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No stress. No work. All you should do is spend your days the way you want to. Situation B: Like A, you receive a vacation as well. This vacation though, is not as fabulous as the one prior and it is a little more crowded. But you can still spend it as you wish and it is free. Naturally, the choice most people would go for is A. While both instances offer a lifelong retreat, B has its setbacks. It’s limited and mentioned a lot of the cons to the vacation, such as being crowded, uncomfortable and lower quality than A. Even though, both are get-away trips, Situation A, however, shows no flaws. Like Situation B, it could have its downfalls too but the problems were not addressed up front. For all the readers know, Situation A could be as bad, if not worse than Situation B. But most would not realize it because of how fascinating it sounds. Stress free with no responsibilities. Media framing works the same way. Framing is summed up as a judgement or opinion about something based on how it’s presented to an audience. It is effective at catching the audience attention, whether it promotes good or bad impressions of ideas and people. Which brings up a question I had for a while, while are people, like the working and lower middle class are shown so negatively in the media? Often portrayed as uneducated and foolish in sitcoms and in the background on the news, it seems like the sole purpose of the working-class character is to provide laughs. The stereotypes have been around for decades and is slowly showing signs of ceasing. By using stereotypes and social framing, the media not only promotes close minded labels but also adds to the negative stereotypes of the lower classes all while marketing merchandise and unnecessary luxury items.

Today, the media is the primary source of information we collect. With computers, TV, smartphones and tablets, available to us, we know the most current events and see the latest trends with ease. Even author, Diana Kendall addresses how the media plays a vital role in society. In the excerpt, Framing Class, Vicarious living and Conspicuous Consumption. Kendall states that the media is so much a part of our culture, that it, simply does not mirror society, rather, they help to shape it and to create cultural perception.[1] (Kendall, 316) With so many ways to communicate along with the many ways to receive knowledge, faming has found its way into the media.

But why is it so important? Sure, it can be seen in ads, newspapers, the internet and tv but why should we need to be aware of it? Framing is important to know because it determines how information is presented to us. It is a view someone else has that they share with others. And the person or people with the view wants as many people to listen and agree with it as possible. Whether the view or idea should be respected or accepted is completely left up to the audience.

Because framing is an effective tool used by the media, could there be bias in the things we watch? The answer is yes. Framing can be problematic because television ads often use it to manipulative the viewers. Often narratives are framed one way, the way the media wants us to see them. Because of this, we are only given small pieces of the story and not the whole thing. In an article written by Marsha Richins, a professor in the Department of Marketing at the University of Missouri, she gives an example of media selection. This one was a commercial for United airlines. The lead character is an attractive working mother, balancing work and taking care of her daughter. She, drops her daughter off at day care, flies to a business meeting, and returns at the end of the day in time to pick up her smiling, delighted daughter[2]. Richins noted that the boring things in the ad were taken out. [3]We don’t see this woman brushing her teeth or standing in line to buy a newspaper. Also omitted are the unpleasant things. As far as we know, this woman never has a run in her pantyhose, never has to wait in the rain for a cab, and her daughter never whines. In media, time and space are costly. Including boring or unpleasant aspects of life in a television commercial or program is expensive and in most cases detrimental to the advertiser’s or director’s goal, so these elements are omitted. But the resulting image depicts an idealized version of life that isn’t achieved even by the most fortunate members of society. [4] Framing could also divide people, not only by appearance and preferences, but also by social class.

Kendall’s book explains this theory. One argument she makes is that the media forces society’s ideals on everyday people. The upper-class are often praised for their wealth and prosperity. Seeing their luxury and how amazing their lives are, we wished ours could be the same. The perceptions they force on us Kendall informs, blur the line of reality and what is not real encourages people to emulate the upper class and shun the working class and poor[5] (Kendall, 317) It sounds crazy but it is a great example of how powerful marketing is. You are being targeted without realizing it and they will not bluntly admit what they want you to do but instead send messages through advertisement. From seeing the ads and hearing other’s opinions and as well as listening to our own, we then make our decision.

These class bias can lead to many stereotypes and prejudging. And from what I’ve seen on TV, the working class gets the worst of it. Class dismissed, a documentary based on a book with the same titled by Pepi Leistyna, goes against many of the tv stereotypes of the working class thought out the history. According to the video, the working class are portrayed as foolish because tv wants you to believe, workers’ inadequacies are to blame for their lack of advancement.[6] In other words, it is your fault you are where you are. Because tv frames the idea that anybody can, achieve success[7] with two simple ingredients: passion and hard-work[8] many people ignore the fact that, most of the time, things that happen to us is beyond our control. Some decisions are based on our choices but not everyone of them. It’s unfair to say everyone’s circumstances are the same and it comes off very insensitive and narrow-minded.

Having this framed mindset, teaches us to be displeased with ourselves and to seek fortune. It makes us think that our lives would be incomplete without the latest designer clothes and shoes. Americans find themselves overspending on name brands and expensive cars. Kendall states the framing is associated with rampant consumerism is emulation framing, which suggest that people in all classes should reward themselves with a few of the perks of the wealthy[9] Using phycological manipulation, companies trick consumers by exposing their insecurities and offering their products as a solution to them. Unfortunately, the products do not solve consumer problems, but instead puts them in debt because of constant spending. All while businesses are making profits.

In conclusion, framing has proved to be a powerful device and highly effective. It shapes the way we think without us even realizing it. The framing effect can be found everywhere: newspapers, media, tv, ads etc. Because of its influence, the media has been using it for years to persuade us to buy products. Since its used often can it be misleading? By using social framing, the media not only encourages close minded views but also adds to the negative stereotypes of the lower classes, while endorsing spending and gaining profit from unaware consumers.

Works Cited

  1. Kendall, Diana Elizabeth. 2005. Framing class: media representations of wealth and poverty in America. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  2. Leistyna, Pepi, Loretta Alper, and Edward Asner. 2005. Class dismissed: how TV frames the working class. [Northampton, MA]: Media Education Foundation. (Video) Director: Loretta Alper – Ed Asner – YouTube – September 26, 2007 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIJENf-s6r4
  3. Marsha L. Richins (1992),”Media Images, Materialism, and What Ought to Be: The Role of Social Comparison”, in SV – Meaning, Measure, and Morality of Materialism, eds. Floyd W. Rudmin and Marsha Richins, Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 202-206. url: https://acrwebsite.org/volumes/12215/volumes/sv08/SV-08
  4. Stazi, Irene (A.A. 2014/2015) Framing effects in marketing messages. Tesi di Laurea in Behavioural economics and psychology, LUISS Guido Carli, relatore Massimo Egidi, pp. 59. [Bachelor’s Degree Thesis] <https://tesi.eprints.luiss.it/15185/1/070912.pdf>
  5. Hicks, Alexandria. Keeping up with the Jones: Socioeconomic Class Representation in Sitcoms. University of Oregon thesis, School of Journalism and Communication, Honors College, B.A. (2014) <https://hdl.handle.net/1794/18254>
  6. Diana Elizabeth, Kendall. 2005. Framing class: media representations of wealth and poverty in America. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  7. Marsha L. Richins (1992),”Media Images, Materialism, and What Ought to Be: The Role of Social Comparison”, in SV – Meaning, Measure, and Morality of Materialism, eds. Floyd W. Rudmin and Marsha Richins, Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 202-206. url: https://acrwebsite.org/volumes/12215/volumes/sv08/SV-08
  8. Richins (1992),”Media Images, Materialism, and What Ought to Be: The Role of Social Comparison”, in SV – Meaning, Measure, and Morality of Materialism, eds. Floyd W. Rudmin and Marsha Richins, Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 202-206. Ibid.
  9. Kendall. 2005. Framing class: media representations of wealth and poverty in America. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
  10. Leistyna, Pepi, Loretta Alper, and Edward Asner. 2005. Class dismissed: how TV frames the working class. [Northampton, MA]: Media Education Foundation. (Video) Director: Loretta Alper – Ed Asner – YouTube – September 26, 2007 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIJENf-s6r4
  11. Hicks, Alexandria. Keeping up with the Jones: Socioeconomic Class Representation in Sitcoms. University of Oregon thesis, School of Journalism and Communication, Honors College, B.A. (2014) <https://hdl.handle.net/1794/18254>
  12. Hicks, Keeping up with the Jones: Socioeconomic Class Representation in Sitcoms. University of Oregon thesis, School of Journalism and Communication, Honors College, B.A. (2014) <https://hdl.handle.net/1794/18254>
  13. Diana Elizabeth, Kendall. 2005. Framing class: media representations of wealth and poverty in America. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
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