Content Is Never Neutral

Content is never neutral. It can help us frame a problem, so that we can design for the behaviours that we prefer.

Imagine, there are two treatments for 600 people with a deadly disease:

  • Treatment A saves 200 lives
  • With Treatment B, 400 people will die

Which would you choose?

They are the same – but when an experiment was run to test this, the positively framed content was chosen by 72% of participants.

By simply using words, we can ‘frame’ a problem in positive or negative way to create different interpretations. We are not rational agents, and our biases will affect the way we react.

In a greater context, framing something in a novel way is often used creatively or in advertising, and can create concepts like the AA’s ‘4th Emergency Service. In the political domain, framing is known as ‘spin’.

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