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Psychol Sci. 2010 Jan;21(1):86-92. doi: 10.1177/0956797609355572. Epub 2009 Dec 10.

A dirty word or a dirty world?: Attribute framing, political affiliation, and query theory.

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Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.


We explored the effect of attribute framing on choice, labeling charges for environmental costs as either an earmarked tax or an offset. Eight hundred ninety-eight Americans chose between otherwise identical products or services, where one option included a surcharge for emitted carbon dioxide. The cost framing changed preferences for self-identified Republicans and Independents, but did not affect Democrats' preferences. We explain this interaction by means of query theory and show that attribute framing can change the order in which internal queries supporting one or another option are posed. The effect of attribute labeling on query order is shown to depend on the representations of either taxes or offsets held by people with different political affiliations.

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