How would you like a glass half empty? Half full? Would you like a thirty-three percent chance of dying or a sixty-seven percent chance of living? Five weeks into the current term or five weeks until the next break? Chances are that you as a reader, had you not known that these things were all one in the same, would have chosen the latter because it sounds nicer, and it is more manageable as a person who needs water to think of a glass as half full, a person who wants to live as having a sixty-seven percent chance of living, and a college student eagerly awaiting vacation as only having five weeks until her or his next break.
The way we frame things makes all the difference. For example, if you were to put the word "only" into this sentence, there would be six different ways to do it--all of them would require a different nuance in speaking and writing and ultimately carry a completely different meaning. For example, "She only told him that she loved him" would imply that the woman didn't tell the man anything other than the fact that she loved him, whereas the sentence, "She told him that she only loved him," would imply that he was the one person she loved. I do feel as though we tend to ignore the power of nuance in conversation, in everyday interactions, and in the way we move and present ourselves. It is not only in language, but it is also present every time we recall stories and form judgments of others.
The framing effect demonstrates how we manipulate the presentation of information in order to fit our own ulterior motives. Such is present everywhere, particularly in the media and, most notoriously, the news.
When given one story--for example, a black man gets pulled over by the cops--we will often have Fox News saying that he had a weapon and was ready to shoot; CNN would cite the encounter as a traffic incident; MSNBC would be up in arms about another person being unnecessarily pulled over while driving; a Vine or YouTube video would be uploaded and shared on millions of pages outlining what really happened, and I do find it to be quite disconcerting for this sort of disparity to be so common in today's news, when we need to know more of whatever "the truth" is more than ever. We have an election coming up where the only presidential candidates are a racist and a potential criminal, neither of which would normally be looked upon in a favorable manner, despite the heinous crimes that may or not have been committed by the front-runners of the two leading political parties.
Let's frame it like this:
How would you feel about someone who has had an extensive business career? How about someone who's been in the White House for 8 years previously?
Now let's frame it like this:
Would you want someone in office who is known to have strong affiliations and endorsements from the Ku Klux Klan and North Korea? Likely not. Would you want someone who can't stop sending emails and causes public outcries from pneumonia? Probably not.
No wonder we're all so damn confused...