Online pilot for framing experiments

We conducted a series of online pilot experiments to investigate how media affordances influence framing effects on individuals' perceptions of fairness and their negative emotions. The experiments utilized the classical ultimatum game, where participants chose to accept or reject an unequal split (7-3) of a given sum. This choice was presented in either a "take" or "give" frame. Behavior in such a game is known to be significantly influenced by emotional factors (Sanfey et al., 2003).

Our experimental design involved exposing subjects to either a visual or textual description of the offer they had to accept or reject. The offer was framed as either the amount the proposer takes for themselves from the total sum to be shared or the amount the proposer gives to the responder.

We elicited subjects’ perceptions of the fairness of the offer, the intentions of the proposer, and the emotions the proposer might experience if their offer were rejected. The experiment revealed a significant effect of media affordances (visual vs. textual) on all these evaluations. Specifically, visual content depicting the proposer’s hands taking or giving a certain amount of tokens in a video attenuated the effects of the "take" vs. "give" frame. This suggests that the social and emotional cues provided by the perception of a human body in the video mitigated the emotional reaction to the offer and the framing effects. Interestingly, these results were confirmed by an analysis using large language models (LLMs) to assess the emotional content of the text written by subjects about the proposer’s emotions.