Framing, Motivated Reasoning, and Opinions About Emergent Technologies


James N. Druckman; e-mail:


How do individuals form opinions about new technologies? What role does factual information play? We address these questions by incorporating 2 dynamics, typically ignored in extant work: information competition and over-time processes. We present results from experiments on 2 technologies: carbon-nanotubes and genetically modified foods. We find that factual information is of limited utility—it does not have a greater impact than other background factors (e.g., values), it adds little power to newly provided arguments/frames (e.g., compared to arguments lacking facts), and it is perceived in biased ways once individuals form clear initial opinions (e.g., motivated reasoning). Our results provide insight into how individuals form opinions over time, and bring together literatures on information, framing, and motivated reasoning.