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Keywords:

  • values;
  • framing effects;
  • counterframing;
  • open-ended survey responses;
  • deliberation

This study examines how frames invoking a core value shape the content and quantity of citizens’ thoughts about a policy issue. An experimental study showed that exposure to a pro-school voucher equality frame increased the probability that participants would invoke equality in their open-ended survey responses. Exposure to an anti-school voucher equality frame produced the same effect, as did exposure to both frames. At the same time, participants who received either frame or both frames provided fewer open-ended responses. Thus, the frames appeared to focus participants’ thoughts on one value while reducing the overall extent to which they thought about the issue. In broader terms, value framing may have implications for the nature and quality of public deliberation about policy issues—a point that scholars should keep in mind when considering how to define and study framing effects.