Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2021

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Experimental Psychology

Committee Chair

Kara Gabriel

Second Committee Member

Susan Lonborg

Third Committee Member

Sandy Martinez


The framing effect is a cognitive bias in which the way a choice is presented influences decision-making. Individuals avoid risk when a scenario or choice is presented in a positive light or as a gain (e.g., lives will be saved, money will be gained). In contrast, because losses are more salient than gains, people will select more risky options in order to avoid potential losses when choices are framed negatively (e.g., lives lost, money lost). Another method of influencing decision-making is priming in which interactions with a specific stimulus predisposes individuals toward certain behaviors or thoughts. The current study examined the potential interactive effects of framing and priming on decision-making while also investigating the role of emotional intelligence (EI) on those effects. EI is the ability to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions and could be expected to influence the impact of priming and framing effects on an individual. The current study primed participants with mortality salience (MS) or self-affirmation (SA) and, then, evaluated the ability of 10 framed scenarios to alter choice behavior as well as the potential of EI to influence those effects. Three-hundred and sixty-nine participants (252 women, 96 men, and 4 other; Mean age = 20 years ± 3) at a university in the Pacific Northwest participated. The resultant sample primarily consisted of 18 to 22-year-old female freshman of self-reported white ethnicity. Participants were randomly assigned to either MS or SA prime condition and, then, to either positive or negative framed scenarios after completing the 40-item Empathy Quotient scale to measure EI. Scenarios varied in the topic under consideration (i.e., finances, health, and community). Results revealed that framing had a significant effect on risk scores, especially those scenarios focused on investments into a friend’s company, curing fish disease in wildlife, and dealing with a large number of employees that were expected to be laid off. Additionally, analysis revealed that EI scores significantly influenced risk scores as a covariate. EI was negatively correlated with risk scores. However, there were no main effects or interactions of the priming variable on risk scores.

Available for download on Tuesday, June 02, 2026