Traits of Effective Framing

Traits of Successful Issue Framing

Adapted from the Kettering Institute and the National Issues Forums (,

  1. Names issue and approaches with terms people actually use
  2. Neutral naming of issue, with most positive framing of approaches
  3. Values are reflected in the approaches
  4. Tensions between pros and cons are clear
  5. Doesn’t yield “all of the above” decisions (trade-offs are apparent)
  6. Pros of one approach not the cons of another (avoids dichotomies)
  7. Consequences described in terms of what’s valuable, not merely what’s practical
  8. Recognizes unpopular POVs
  9. Often leaves people “stewing”–they’re more aware of the undesirable result of their preferred approach
  10. Does not yield “the usual” conversation
  11. Disrupts old patterns; shouldn’t replicate prevailing academic, professional, or partisan framing of the issue
  12. Agents of change should include citizens and their collective action