In the previous post, we’ve explored the importance of framing. How then, can we frame effectively?

Going back to interpretations

If you recall, the reason why we frame is because we want something to be interpreted according to our intent. So knowing how to frame boils down to determining what affects interpretations; and for that I did state that it was idiosyncrasy and motivation in the previous post. First let’s look into idiosyncrasy which produces 2 out of 3 info that we need.

Breaking down idiosyncrasy

Idiosyncrasy is such a broad term – it encompasses beliefs borne out of distant past and immediate experiences. If you think about it, it can be quite tedious to dig out someone’s distant past’s experiences because it would require talking and rappel building. What we are left with is therefore the immediate experiences.

Immediate experiences

Firstly, we need to understand that the human brain can retain around 10 distinct pieces of information at a time (proven in the field of social psychology). So the next question to ask is, what information/experiences are we dealing with on a day to day basis that is relevant distinctively to each of us? Occupation. Occupation because that is the field of profession that is distinct to everyone and the knowledge and value in that field are info that we have to commit to our memories. Other than occupation, relevant information about what are the recent events that precede this person would also help immensely.

The 2 out of 3 information that you need to frame effectively

At this stage, you should already know what they are: the person’s occupation and the short-term events that surround your intended audiences’ lives. Just run a thought experiment: if you are an academic, you would be more concern about qualities that academic prized such as critical thinking. If you are a Wall Street trader, you would be looking out for opportunities; and being timely is the quality you are looking for. For events, say you recently came back from an exciting overseas trip, you would be looking to take a break from hectic activities; preferring to engage in tranquil activities like reading a book in solitude or having an afternoon tea with friends instead. 


I hope you haven’t forgotten that we still have motivation as a factor of interpretation which I stated before we branched off to ideosyncrasy. However, this is a simple one to understand. How we want to interpret a situation depends on the our intention and motivation – why we want to interpret it in a certain way. In general, people’s motivation can be explained by the “better than average” effect.

The “better than average” effect

“Hundreds of surveys have shown that men and women of all ages, regions of the country, and even social classes tend to rate themselves as above average on almost any positive dimension: more sensitive, unbiased, better leaders drivers – you name it…part of this is simple human vanity. People show more of the “above average effect” when their self-esteem has been challenged and they are in need of a boost…(but) consider the possibility that most people really are above average.”(Gilovich and Ross, 2015)

Care to be taken when assuming

Before you go all cynical and assume that everyone is selfish, a mistake that I am guilty of from time to time, we need to know that not everyone is self-interest motivated. Although it is generally true, we should make the effort to get to know if that person is kind or altruistic wherever feasible; it’s our responsibility to at least be fair to these individuals. But if the audience pool is too huge, I can reluctantly say that we are reasonably excused in the name of feasibility.


The third info that we need is therefore the motivation of the audience. All these information of our target audience, including the 1st 2 that I mentioned earlier, require us to take the effort to find out or inductively/abductively do the guesswork. We need to do that before we can frame effectively, but only in exhibiting true benevolence can we become better communicators.

Signing off,


Reference material:

Gilovich, T. and Ross, L. (2015) The wisest One in the room: How you can benefit from social psychology’s Five most powerful insights. Philadelphia, PA, United States: Free Press.


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