Real, but Limited: A Meta-Analytic Assessment of Framing Effects in the Political Domain

Eran Amsalem, Alon Zoizner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the past three decades, scholars have frequently used the concept of framing effects to assess the competence of citizens' political judgments and how susceptible they are to elite influence. Yet prior framing studies have reached mixed conclusions, and few have provided systematic cumulative evidence. This study evaluates the overall efficacy of different types of framing effects in the political domain by systematically meta-analyzing this large and diverse literature. A combined analysis of 138 experiments reveals that when examined across contexts, framing exerts medium-sized effects on citizens' political attitudes and emotions. However, framing effects on behavior are negligible, and small effects are also found in more realistic studies employing frame competition. These findings suggest that although elites can influence citizens by framing issues, their capacity to do so is constrained. Overall, citizens appear to be more competent than some scholars envision them to be.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-237
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press.


  • citizen competence
  • framing effects
  • media effects
  • meta-analysis
  • political attitudes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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