Decision frames and schemata [...]

"Decision frames"

Definition: A frame is the context used to describe an idea, question, or decision. Frames heavily influence our interpretations and conclusions by emphasizing (or ignoring) certain aspects of a situation....Psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky explored the effect of decision frames and found that the exact same information can lead to opposite conclusions, depending on the frame used to present the decision

Links to the parents/poultry farmer exercise and how it could be evolved. Raising the question of the relationship between frames and schema.


Seel uses (Rumelhart et al. 1986) to offer the following summary of schema

  1. Human knowledge about the world is represented in memory as the sum of structured units called schemas.
  2. Most schemas are acquired through learning; however, some primitive schemas are assumed to be innate.

    I wonder about the idea of "innate" schemas

  3. There are schemas of objects (e.g., a CHAIR schema), of persons (e.g., a TEACHER schema), of a state of affairs (e.g., a PEACE schema), of abstract concepts (e.g., a COMMUNISM schema), of relationships between objects (e.g., a RELATION: CHAIR-TABLE schema), etc. Schemas of actions and events are often labeled as scripts, a metaphorical use of the corresponding cinematic term. Furthermore, a distinction has been made between situational schemas (= “frames”), action schemas (= “plans”), and “grammars,” which represent the regular structure of narratives and stories (Mandler 1984).
  4. Schemas are not direct, image-like copies of phenomena in the external world but the result of cognitive processing of information. The mind neither copies the world, passively accepting it as a readymade given, nor does it ignore the world.
  5. Schemas have different levels of complexity and abstraction. One can have an abstract schema CHAIR as well as a concrete schema of one specific chair, for example, in a particular dining room.
  6. Schemas have variables which can take on various values. The elements that make up a schema can be called slots. Any important element or schema within a schema may be thought of as a slot that can accept any of the range of values that are compatible with its associated schemata. For example, a very general schema for BUY may have four fairly abstract slots: a seller, a buyer, an object, and money. On different occasions these slots in the BUY schema will be filled differently. In one case the buyer will be a woman, in another a man, the object bought can be either a Hamburger or a book, etc., that is, the concrete slot fillers vary in different environments and situations but fit into the same schema BUY.
  7. A schema can integrate new data into its organizational structure. It can put new information into the existing human database.
  8. Schemas can embed with each other (e.g., CHAIR as a subschema of FURNITURE). This characteristic has to do with the abstract intensification of attributes and the hierarchical organization of schemas of various generalization and abstraction resulting from this process


Decision frames: How cognitive biases affect UX practitioners - references Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1981). The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice. Science, 211(4481), 453–458. Retrieved from

Seel, Norbert. Schema(s)


Marshall, Sandra (1995?) Schemas in Problem Solving

Walsh, James. (1995) Managerial and organisational cognition

Bednarek, Monika (2005). Frames revisited—the coherence-inducing function of frames

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Posted on Categories cognitiveBias, mindset