Clear all

3 results found

reorder grid_view

Conceptualizing US Food Systems with Simplifying Models: Findings from Talk Back Testing

April 1, 2006

The research reported on here focused on identifying one or more "simplifying models" to help Americans think more productively about Food Systems. Previous research efforts on the part of the FrameWorks Institute and its research partners (including Cultural Logic) had established that members of the public have no clear understanding or mental image of the Food System (or of individual food systems that yield particular foods). Instead, for a variety of cultural and cognitive reasons, they toggle between a dominant, "little picture" focus on the lived experience of food – shopping, cooking,eating – and an exaggerated picture of a totally "modernized" food production system, where nearly all food is produced in the equivalent of factories, and bears little or no connection to natural systems. (The latter pattern emerges particularly when people are pressed to think about how food is produced – the former is a much stronger default.). Without a more realistic perspective on how food is produced and distributed, Americans are poorly positioned to engage with important issues that experts are concerned about, and are not able to appreciate the importance of various policy approaches to improving the situation. Experience on other issues suggests that one way of raising engagement and improving the public conversation is to provide Americans with conceptual tools that can help them think not like experts, but like "managers," with a sufficient sense of the "big picture" that they can form reasonable opinions and act on a sense of collective responsibility.

How the News Frames Child Maltreatment: Unintended Consequences

August 1, 2003

While advocates are usually gratified to see attention paid to their issue in the news, the coverage can often be a mixed blessing, as research by the FrameWorks Institute and others has shown. It is the way that stories are told in the news that affects public thinking, and many of these stories do not guide thinking in constructive directions. A story that seems to convey important information may also have unintended, damaging consequences for public understanding and engagement. This document summarizes some of the major patterns in news coverage of child maltreatment -- the key narratives, frames and causal stories that are conveyed to the public on the issue. The material for the analysis includes a collection of roughly 120 news articles collected by Prevent Child Abuse America and Cultural Logic. Additionally, the review included a collection of several dozen TV news stories assembled by the Center for Communications and Community at UCLA. The premise behind this study is that once advocates have a better idea about the way their issue is portrayed in the media, they can be strategic about choosing which narratives to reinforce, which to challenge, and which to downplay. A close examination of news coverage also gives advocates a window into what they are up against as they try to increase public engagement. This research analysis is part of New FrameWorks Research on Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention, and was conducted in collaboration with the FrameWorks Institute, and commissioned by Prevent Child Abuse America, with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Please visit our website for more information.

Two Cognitive Obstacles to Preventing Child Abuse: The 'Other Mind' Mistake and the 'Family Bubble'

April 1, 2003

Following decades of effective publicity about the issue, Americans are now aware of the horrors of child abuse and have an idea (even an exaggerated idea) of the pervasiveness of all types of maltreatment. Making further headway in engaging the public on the issue will have to involve more than raising the volume on awareness campaigns. Such campaigns can even backfire by intensifying the public's media-fed association between abuse and sensational crimes -- which only "sick monsters" could commit and no programs can ever totally eliminate. To take the public to the next step in engagement, communications will need to address counterproductive patterns of reasoning that hinder better understanding of the issue. One of the most pervasive of these is the "Other-Minds" mistake: Lay people misperceive a child as a little mind which develops through abstract processes like learning, memory and choice; or which does not "develop" at all, and exists from the beginning as something like an adult mind which just needs to be "filled" or "guided." This fallacy effectively obscures any scientific understanding of development of biological systems which guide these and all other aspects of behavior. This fallacy is natural, we suggest, because of a highly evolved (and very useful) human mechanism for interpreting the content of Other-Minds (known to psychologists as the "Other-Minds module"). While the "Other-Minds" module is extremely useful for trying to read the minds of other adults, it also leads to a number of distortions that make child maltreatment more likely to happen, and less likely to be prevented. These distortions include a tendency to believe that an infant has an "agenda" that conflicts with ours; an exaggerated sense of children's ability to "get past" abuse through force of will; a sense that even one year-old children can benefit from punishment for breaking moral rules; and a difficulty understanding the concept of "neglect" except as something like "underinvolvement;" among others. An additional cognitive obstacle which communications need to address is the "Family Bubble" -- the default mode of thinking in which events within the family (including child rearing and child maltreatment) take place in a sphere that is separate and different from the public sphere. This default understanding is stronger than a mere belief that families should be autonomous. It means that even thinking about the interaction between child rearing and public policy is difficult for people, and that communications based on reinforcing the "Village," while appealing, can lead to conflictedness rather than change. This research analysis is part of New FrameWorks Research on Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention, and was conducted in collaboration with the FrameWorks Institute, and commissioned by Prevent Child Abuse America, with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.