Don’t Get Framed! The Neuroscience of Framing Protection
Every day, all day you are walking into situations in which you are being framed. Not being aware of it only makes you more susceptible to having your brain and behavior bent to do someone else’s bidding. In order to be able to defend yourself from these situations, and see where others leave themselves open to reframing and idea injection and schema modification let’s dive into the neuroscience of framing.
I’m assuming that you have already read the introductory posts Persuasion Science:Begin Here, and Information is Everything: Persuasion Science and Framing. If you haven’t, please take the time to build your persuasion science foundation by reading those posts.
Having read those two posts, you now have the correct contextual cues to pick up the subtleties of the persuasion techniques that we will be learning. You have just been framed! What does that mean and what are the implications?
What does it mean to be framed by neuroscience?
It means I have you right where I want you. Simple humans walk around all day thinking that they control their own thoughts. We don’t! First of all you have a collection of automatic thoughts bubbling in your head all day You know, the voices in your head. Yep they’re real–if they weren’t, you wouldn’t be hearing them.
Now before you have yourself carted off to a padded room with mesh windows, let’s deconstruct this idea. Let’s first stop calling them voices and refer to them as thoughts. Like love and anger, those are real and nobody else can see or hear them. I know…I know Hulk Smash!!!! Well, that leads right into my next point.
Your automatic thoughts, secret voices, intuition provide impulsive and reactive responses to environmental cues based on schema that you’ve been collecting since before you were born. Schema are a collection of mental models of how the world works.
When you perceive certain elements in your environment in combination it signals you to start looking for other elements to confirm that your suspected hypothesis is correct. Later we’ll discuss how this makes you susceptible to confirmation bias.
Is talking to yourself bad?
If you talk to yourself, you’re not alone. Most people do. We let these conversations run…wait for it… automatically. Some people use the aphorism about trusting intuition as an excuse for impulsive poor decision making.
Unless you are schizophrenic (or contextually psychotic), that constant stream of thoughts are often driven by the framing of others. These thoughts often originate from the activation of your associative memory (including the associative cortex) in response to stimuli. And when it comes to stimuli, it is either external or a collection of internal stimuli that was originally framed by an external source. Learn to control the input, and over the course of time you can learn to control everything in your brain.
Some people treat these internal voices like something magical. If anything about my description sounds magical, please go back and read it again. There is no magic here, only persuasion science.
How do automatic thoughts affect your behavior?
The parts of your environment that catch your attention initially trigger your automatic thoughts. They do this by being similar enough to existing schema in your mind to be recognized but by having just enough elements of difference to trigger a touch of surprise and cognitive dissonance to make you pay attention.
As you walk around with your automatic thoughts you compare them to your underlying rules (personal schemas) and come up with a reaction. We’ll be going much deeper into these details soon and having a great time at it. For now let’s pop back up to the surface. What triggers your automatic thoughts? Frames! Frames.Frames Frames!
A combination of contextual cues in the environment are picked up by your perception and send your brain automatically looking for (and more likely to find) other related cues. In some cases and in a hurry we may jump to conclusions and assume that the other cues are present to the point of seeing them.
Next Steps in the Neuroscience of Framing
On the next post we’ll be examining some visual and cognitive illusions that demonstrate what happens when schemata are violated. We’ll also look at attention-blindness(what happens when you are busy pattern matching).
Here is how you can put framing to immediate use. Either you or somebody you know will soon have a cold. Do you know what the research says is the best remedy? Framing!