Reframing: A Literature Review

Casey Burgess MA

Dr. Shanker’s paper (this volume) examines the concept of reframing – the idea that there are multiple meanings of everything that may be perceived. Goffman’s Frame Analysis (1974) explains reframing as an examination of the terms of the organization of experience. While frames can help us to understand other perspectives, difficulties with framing can arise due to ambiguity or framing errors caused by engaging in inaccurate premises without trying to determine what is really going on. Often, among scientific disciplines, a lack of communication can occur when one field accepts a hypothesis and another discredits it (Entman, 1993), leaving in its wake a need for cross-disciplinary research to push understanding forward.

Reframing has often been seen in scientific literature, leading to new research-grounded ways of using existing knowledge for advancement in various fields. Reframing is evident, for instance, in the following: a shift to a heliocentric view of the universe (Weinert, 2014); a shift to seeing one thing in two ways (Berger, 1972); a shift in the narrative of battered women from decline to growth (Arnold & Ake, 2013); a shift from segregation to mainstreaming to inclusion (Terzi, 2014); and a shift from division and scripted understanding to unscripted truth and reconciliation (Tovares, 2016). Hundreds of articles can be found explaining how a new frame for a problem can lead to new approaches and interventions in risky behaviour (Lustig & Sung, 2013; Pingel, Bauermeister, Johns, Eisenberg, & Leslie-Santana, 2013), domestic violence (Arnold & Ake, 2013; Behr, Grit, Bal, & Robben, 2015), leadership (Murray & Clark, 2013; Raelin, 2016), education (Masocha, 2015; Winstone & Millward, 2012), and developmental disabilities (Grinker, 2015; Lester & Paulus, 2014).

Historically, self-regulation itself has been framed in a variety of ways, from being seen as behaviour-based and involving compliance and will prior to the 1950s to being seen in the light of emergent and contemporary research (1950-1990), which became focused on cognition and its implications to development (Post, Boyer, & Brett, 2006). Expansionist research, from 1990 to the present, shows self-regulation to be linked to every category of psychology with a wide range of contexts and directions (Post et al., 2006). With 447 different uses of the term self-regulation in the literature (Burman, Green, & Shanker, 2015), a consistent framework grounded in rigorous science is needed to approach society’s growing problems, such as increases in physical health issues like obesity and autoimmune diseases, internalizing and externalizing problems, risky behaviour, and poor education outcomes (“People For Education 2010 Keynote Address, ” 2010).

The Shanker Self-Reg® framework (Shanker, 2012, 2016) provides a reframing of existing behaviour-based models of child and adult well-being by looking at known developmental trajectories with a neuropsychological lens and defining self-regulation as the body’s ability to respond to and recover from stressors. Reframing human development and well-being in this manner opens the door to a potential shift in responses and interventions for child development, both typical and exceptional.
Research on the process of reframing is very limited, but does center around the art of thinking differently, based on Kuhn’s ideas of paradigm revolution: trying to determine why we do the things we do, and how we might do them differently (Benammar, 2012). Little research goes into any detail on reframing beyond this work. Future research is warranted on the process by which we can look at existing knowledge with a new lens, in order to expand on its application within developmental psychology and child intervention.


Arnold, G., & Ake, J. (2013). Reframing the narrative of the battered women’s movement. Violence Against Women, 19(5), 557–578. doi:

Behr, L., Grit, K., Bal, R., & Robben, P. (2015). Framing and reframing critical incidents in hospitals. Health, Risk & Society, 17(1), 81–97. doi:

Benammar, K. (2012). Reframing – The Art of Thinking Differently. [Kindle e-book]: Uitgeverij Boom

Berger, J. (1972). Ways of seeing. London: Penguin Books.

Burman, J.T., Green, C.D., & Shanker, S. (2015). On the meanings of self-regulation: Digital humanities in service of conceptual clarity. Child Development, 86(5), 1507–1521.

Entman, R.M. (1993). Framing: Toward clarification of a fractured paradigm. Journal of Communication, 43(4), 51–58.

Goffman, E. (1974). Frame analysis. New York: Harper & Row.

Grinker, R.R. (2015). Reframing the science and anthropology of autism. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 39(2), 345–350. doi:

Lester, J.N., & Paulus, T.M. (2014). “That teacher takes everything badly”: Discursively reframing non-normative behaviors in therapy sessions. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 27(5), 641–666. doi:

Lustig, D.F., & Sung, K.K. (2013). Dissolving borders: Reframing risk, delinquent peers, and youth violence. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(8), 1197–1205. doi:

Masocha, S. (2015). Reframing black social work students’ experiences of teaching and learning. Social Work Education, 34(6), 636–649. doi:

Murray, J., & Clark, R.M. (2013). Reframing leadership as a participative pedagogy: The working theories of early years professionals. Early Years: An International Journal of Research and Development, 33(3), 289–301. doi:

People For Education 2010 Keynote Address. (2010). People for Education Conference 2010. Toronto, ON.

Pingel, E.S., Bauermeister, J.A., Johns, M.M., Eisenberg, A., & Leslie-Santana, M. (2013). “A safe way to explore”: Reframing risk on the Internet amidst young gay men’s search for identity. Journal of Adolescent Research, 28(4), 453–478. doi:

Post, Y., Boyer, W., & Brett, L. (2006). A historical examination of self-regulation: Helping children now and in the future. Early Childhood Education Journal, 34(1), 5–14. doi:10.1007/s10643-006-0107-x

Raelin, J.A. (2016). Imagine there are no leaders: Reframing leadership as collaborative agency. Leadership, 12(2), 131–158. doi:

Shanker, S. (2012). Calm, alert, and learning: Classroom strategies for self-regulation. Toronto: Pearson Education Canada.

Shanker, S., Barker, T. (2016) Self-Reg: How To Help Your Child (And You) Break The Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage With Life. Penguin Random House Canada

Terzi, L. (2014). Reframing inclusive education: Educational equality as capability equality. Cambridge Journal of Education, 44(4), 479–493. doi:

Tovares, A.V. (2016). Going off-script and reframing the frame: The dialogic intertwining of the centripetal and centrifugal voices in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings. Discourse & Society, 27(5), 554–573.

Weinert, F. (2014). Lines of descent: Kuhn and beyond. Foundations of Science, 19(4), 331. doi:10.1007/s10699-013-9342-y

Winstone, N., & Millward, L. (2012). Reframing perceptions of the lecture from challenges to opportunities: Embedding active learning and formative assessment into the teaching of large classes. Psychology Teaching Review, 18(2), 31–41.