Resisting Framing Effects: The Importance of Prior Attitude on Estate Tax Preferences
2008, Journal of the American Taxation Association
Darius Fatemi, John Hassledine, Peggy A Hite
Understanding tax preferences toward the estate tax could help resolve the continuing debate on weather the tax should be repealed. Gathering pubic opinion, however, is not a simple task as differing frames can alter the solicited preferences. For example the framing literature has shown that equivalent but countervailing frames can produce dissimilar responses, That is, providing positive descriptors of an attribute tends to lead to a more favorable evaluative response than does using negative descriptors (Levin et al. 1998). In contrast, the resistance literature has found that when respondents possess a prior counter attitude that conflicts with the descriptors, exposure to the descriptors can strengthen the original counter attitude. The estate tax, a contentious issue that is typically viewed negatively by taxpayers, provides an issue in which predictions from framing and resistance literatures are in direct contrast. Our study demonstrates that prior counter attitude reverses the expected framing effects. In sum, when respondents do not initially approve of an estate tax, favorable frames lead to more negative responses than do unfavorable frames.
Fatemi, Darius, John Hasseldine, and Peggy A. Hite, (2008), "Resisting Framing Effects: The Importance of Prior Attitude on Estate Tax Preferences,” Journal of the American Taxation Association, Spring.