Scheufele, D.A. (2001). Agenda-setting, priming, and framing revisited: another look at cognitive effects of political communication. Communication abstracts, 24(1).This paper looks at agenda-setting, priming, and framing as distinctively different approaches to effects of political communication and argues against attempts to subsume all 3 approaches under the broad concept of agenda-setting.Scheufele argues that agenda-setting and priming differ from framing with respect to their assumptions and premises.The theoretical foundation of agenda-setting and priming can be traced back to psychological concepts of priming in work on cognitive processing of semantic information.

  • By receiving and processing information, individuals develop memory traces or activation tags; concepts or issues are primed and made more accessible in an individual’s memory. The idea of accessibility is the foundation of a memory- based model of information processing, which assumes that individuals make judgments about other people or issues based on information easily available and retrievable from memory at the time the question is asked. According to a memory-based model, judgments and attitude formation are directly correlated with “the ease in which instances or associations could be brought to mind.

The theoretical foundation of framing is linked to attribution theory and frame analysis.

  • Human beings cannot understand the world in all its complexity. Therefore the individual tries to infer underlying causal relations from sensory information. Goffman argued that Individuals cannot understand the world fully and therefore actively classify and interpret their life experiences to make sense of the world around them. The individual’s reaction to sensory information therefore depends on schemes of interpretation called “primary frameworks”.

According to McComb, Weaver, and Shaw;

  • Priming is the impact that agenda-setting can have on the way individuals evaluate public officials by influencing the thematic areas or issues that individuals use to form these evaluations.
  • Framing can be considered an extension of agenda-setting as it “is the selection of a restricted number of thematically related attributes for inclusion on the media agenda when a particular object is discussed.
  • Terror

Not Terror!?

The paper proposes to look at agenda building, agenda setting and priming as related processes.

In agenda building, media’s agenda is influenced by the agenda of elite;

in agenda setting the agenda of audience is influenced by media agenda, and in framing the audience evaluation is conditioned.

Frame building and frame setting should be considered as separate processes. Framing influences how audiences think about issues, not by making aspects of the issue more salient, but by invoking interpretive schemas that influence the interpretation of incoming information.

  • As Weaver has argued the concept of Framing is not yet well developed. Therefore, a lot of disagreements are the result of inconsistent definition.


Who sets the media agenda?






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