Framing is simply a way to alter how we will sort, categorize, associate and ultimately give meaning to events, objects or behaviors.
“The glass is half empty.” That’s how a pessimist would “frame” the objective fact of a half a glass of water. Of course the optimist would say it’s “Half full.” They’d both be “framing” an objective reality with words that stress certain features of that reality.
Framing creates context by directing our focus and attention towards some things while moving it away from or entirely excluding it from other things. Framing also creates a perceptual filter by accessing and priming certain preconceived notions, emotions associated with words and associations in general.
The headline “FBI agents Raid Cult Leader’s Compound” creates a mental picture and feel that is vastly different than the headline “FBI agents Storm Christian Gathering of Women and Children.” Both headlines might be accurate for the same objective event but the words used alter the associated internal images and feelings and thereby change or alter the meaning that a person will give to the objective event.