Policy Change by Framing - Nonprofit Tip

In a very strange way, we are almost always judged based on how we answer questions. It happens at at school when we answer tests and exams, it happens when we visit the doctor when we respond to the questions posed to the symptoms we are showing or in Court when the lawyer asks questions pertaining to the case.

There are people who are really good at knowing how to answer to the satisfaction of the questioner and to themselves, thus addressing their own agenda. These kind of people do this as a profession to safeguard their integrity, reputation, company brand or to avoid or run away from the law.

Let us look at it from a vantage point of how nonprofits can use this approach, thereby addressing the advocacy and policy issues. This kind of method based on psychology studies and research is called framing. The way an answer is presented depends on how the information is presented. how do we frame our answers such we are able to get the best results or provide us an advantage?

Supposing you want people to know that by using a certain product they are going to save money. Therefore, the questioning should be done in a way they realise they will lose money if they do not invest in the product. If we explain how much they will save or gain, they would more likely not go with purchasing the product.

So how can a nonprofit organisation benefit from this type of questioning such the answers will help address the issues at hand. How do we get the answers we want?

Let us say there is a nonprofit that is working on the elderly and the issue is about health. So how would the nonprofit organisation push for advocacy or policy change such they are able to gain the public support. It can only be done by putting to the people key questions positioned in a way the answer will be favourable for policy change.

If people are asked if they wish to have more regulation or whether they favour regulation on health, the answer most likely is no. However, if they question was framed differently, for example, if people are asked whether they want to maintain or strengthen regulations protecting the health of the elderly most likely the answer will be yes.

What this means is that framing is so key to ensuring we can get the kind of answers we need for change. Remember, information that is vivid and salient is likely to have a larger impact on people's behavior than information that is statistical and abstract (Sunstein, CR., 2013, "Simpler: The Future of Government").

The next time, a nonprofit decides to push for change on a critical matter of people's consciousness, consider having someone who is an expert of psychology to coach or guide on how to get the answers you want.This is pertinent especially in this day in age when the evidence of the people's sentiment and emotional slant can make the difference as to how decisions makers will look at the subject matter at hand.