Memory & Cognition

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 768–779 | Cite as

On the role of rarity information in speakers’ choice of frame

  • Hidehito Honda
  • Toshihiko Matsuka


In this article, we examine conversational behaviors when people describe the outcomes of uncertain events. We propose a new hypothesis, frame choice based on rarity information, that is built on the basis of one prominent measure of informativeness (i.e., self-information). The hypothesis predicts that when speakers can choose one of two logically equivalent frames for describing the outcome of an uncertain event (e.g., the results of the roll of a die or a medical operation), they prefer the frame denoting an event that is known or perceived to be rare. Four experiments using frame choice tasks provide evidence that speakers’ choice of frame is explained well by the rarity hypothesis.


Framing effect Frame choice Sensitivity to rarity information Conversational behavior Reference point hypothesis Beliefs of informativeness 


Author note

The first author, Hidehito Honda, is now at Food Function Division, National Food Research Institute, 2-1-12, Kannondai, Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki 305-8642, Japan. We presented preliminary reports of this work at the 32nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. This research was supported in part by Nakajima Foundation and KEKENHI #23500335 & #25330167. We thank three anonymous reviewers for their insightful suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Digital Content and Media Sciences DivisionNational Institute of InformaticsChiyoda-kuJapan
  2. 2.Department of Cognitive and Information ScienceChiba UniversityChibaJapan

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