Framing Effect

For article number four of this cognitive bias series, we will be looking at the “Framing Effect”. How does the same information presented in different ways affect our decision making and choices?

As we build this catalogue of common cognitive biases, we will begin to see how they are all somewhat related, and that many of the tools to help manage and avoid them will be similar. This is where a continued effort to embed these habits into our research will help; not only to highlight one bias at a time, but allowing us to critically analyse information, while being aware of multiple active biases.

Moving on from Belief Bias, which highlighted how our post-held beliefs and values influenced how we ingested and either accepted or denied information. Framing Effect looks at how our informed decisions may be affected, depending on how the information is presented to us.


FRAMING EFFECT = cognitive bias where people decide on options based on if the options are presented with positive or negative semantics

Framing Effect sees people make different choices on the same information, based on how it is presented. For instance:

  • Player A & B average 4.2 marks a game each            (actual information)
  • Player A gets at minimum 4.2 marks a game             (positive perspective)
  • Player B only gets 4.2 marks a game                          (negative perspective)

Based on the way this player’s stats have been presented, people will tend to lean towards the positive perspective, even though it is exactly the same. Framing Effect has also shown that people are inclined to choose mince meat which is 75% fat free over mince meat which is 25% fat. It is the same ratio of fat but presented in positive and negative ways. Additionally, if we look at political campaigns, certain arguments, information and data can all be framed or spun in different ways to support agendas and elicit certain responses. As such, being cautious of how statements, articles, tweets and other media sources are presented is key to understanding the underlying information.

Approaches to avoid Framing Effect

As touched on above, being aware of how information is presented and more importantly, not taking it on face value, is critical in avoiding Framing Effect. Below is a piece of information which is commonly presented to highlight a player’s season thus far.

Example: “Marcus Bontempelli only has 2 games over 120 points”

So, what is wrong with this? Well nothing and everything. It is correct, Bontempelli does “only” have two games over 120 points, but what this statement also does is negatively positions the information to highlight a point. It leaves out a number of important factors that should be considered.

  • How many games has Bontempelli played?
  • What are Bontempelli other scores?
  • Why is the threshold value of 120 used?
  • Is the information presented in a negative or positive light?

As we can see, information presented in certain ways can be easily accepted without understanding it in its entirety. This is especially prominent on social media, with posts and tweets only a sentence long, we may be inclined to continue scrolling and accept the information as it is, instead of questioning its validity or looking through the comments for additional context.

How to utilize Cognitive Bias

Based on the above example, after we have probed the statement, we can start to build a more grounded understanding and highlight how it has been presented. For example, using Daily Fantasy Rankings player scores resource, we can answer the questions we had about the original information.

fantasy scores

How many games has Bontempelli played?

  • 12 games

What are Bontempelli other scores?

  • Average: 102
  • 6 games over 100
  • Low score of 72

Why is the threshold value of 120 used?

  • Arbitrary value used to fit the data to the statement
  • If 110 was to be used instead, Bontempelli would have 6 games above 110

Is the information presented in a negative or positive angle?

  • The use of “only” signals the information is presented in a negative angle, to highlight the lack of very high scoring games.

While Framing Effect, can easily go unnoticed. It is the ability to question information internally, asking ourselves; what angle is the information being presented and is the author trying to spin a narrative. By asking these questions and more, we can begin to not take information as is, instead critically analysing it for ourselves. 

This is the third instalment of Kansas' cognitive bias articles. Click below to check out the others.

1. How To Manage Tilt in DFS

2. Dealing with 'Anchoring Bias' in DFS

3. Understanding the Effects of 'Belief Bias' in DFS