Political Science, Department of


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A thesis presented to the Faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Masters of Arts, Major: Political Science, under the supervision of Professor Michael W. Wagner, Lincoln, Nebraska, August, 2010.
Copyright 2010 Kristen D. Anderson


The processing of messages in the political world is often a function of the frames in which the information is embedded (e.g. Druckman 2001; 2007; Gamson 1989; Iyengar 1991; Jacoby 2001; Nelson, Clawson, and Oxley 1997). These frames have the ability to alter preferences based on how people process information. Research on frames has neglected how an individual’s personality creates the ability to resist or accept the various frames found in political communications. The question at hand is whether framing effects vary based on personality traits and typologies, or if people universally succumb to them when controlling for factors such as knowledge and core value dispositions (see Zaller 1992; Chong and Druckman 2007). The study uses the Big Five Inventory and Prospect Theory from the Minnesota Twin Study in the attempt to understand how personality affects preference change based on framing. Findings show agreeableness to be the only factor to affect preference changes between prospect theory’s loss and gain frames. In addition, personality traits are not found to affect the choice of a risky or sure option in gain and loss frames. However, conclusions indicate the possibility of personality causing variation in preference changes due to framing effects once political rhetoric is entered into the equation.

Adviser: Michael W. Wagner