Who's been framed? Framing effects are reduced in financial gambles made for others

Fenja V. Ziegler, Richard J. Tunney*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Decisions made on behalf of other people are sometimes more rational than those made for oneself. In this study we used a monetary gambling task to ask if the framing effect in decision-making is reduced in surrogate decision-making. Methods: Participants made a series of choices between a predetermined sure option and a risky gambling option of winning a proportion of an initial stake. Trials were presented as either a gain or a loss relative to that initial stake. In half of the trials participants made choices to earn money for themselves and in the other half they earned money for another participant. Framing effects were measured as risk seeking in loss frames and risk aversion in gain frames. Results: Significant framing effects were observed both in trials in which participants earned money for themselves and those in which they earned money for another person; however, these framing effects were significantly reduced when making decisions for another person. It appears that the reduced emotional involvement when the decision-maker is not affected by the outcome of the decision thus lessens the framing effect without eradicating it altogether. Conclusions: This suggests that the deviation from rational choices in decision-making can be significantly reduced when the emotional impact on the decision maker is lessened. These results are discussed in relation to Somatic Distortion Theory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalBMC Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2015 Ziegler and Tunney; licensee BioMed Central. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain
Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article,
unless otherwise stated.


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