Frame Dependence

DEFINITION of 'Frame Dependence'

The human tendency to view a scenario differently depending on how it is presented. Frame dependence is based on emotion, not logic, and can explain why people sometimes make irrational choices. For example, when presented with a scenario in which a sweater is being offered at its full price of $50 and a scenario in which the same sweater is regularly priced at $75 but on sale for $50, many consumers would perceive the latter as a better value even though in both situations they are being asked to pay the same price for the same sweater. Thus a real-life application of frame dependence is the use of strategic pricing by retail stores to influence consumers' purchasing behavior.

BREAKING DOWN 'Frame Dependence'

Frame dependence is one component of psychologist Daniel Kahneman's Nobel Prize-winning prospect theory, a major contribution to behavioral economics. Along with co-researcher Amos Tversky, Kahneman showed several cognitive biases that cause people to make irrational decisions, including the anchoring effect, loss aversion, mental accounting, the planning fallacy and the illusion of control.

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