Writing Effective Prompts: Integrating Theories from linguistics, cognitive science, and social psychology

Integrated Prompt Design Framework (IPDF)

Crafting effective prompts is an art that requires understanding how language functions in various contexts and how individuals respond to different roles and scenarios. By integrating insights from Role Theory, Minsky's Frame System Theory, Speech Acts, and Halliday's Systemic Functional Grammar, one can design clear prompts, contextually rich, and purposefully structured. This article explores how these theories and grammatical aspects can be combined to create effective prompts. This article is very short because I recommend inputting the system prompts from the appendices into an AI System and then asking questions about the method and, of course, trying it out.

Role Theory: Setting Clear Expectations

Role Theory emphasizes that individuals behave according to their social roles, which carry specific expectations and behaviours. When writing prompts, clearly defining the role of the respondent helps in setting the context and predicting the nature of the response. By understanding the role, respondents can tailor their responses to fit the expected behaviors and responsibilities associated with that role.


Minsky's Frame System Theory: Providing Context

Minsky's Frame System Theory involves organizing knowledge into structures called frames, which provide context and expectations for understanding situations. By framing the context in your prompts, you guide the respondent's understanding and responses. Frames help in structuring the scenario by specifying roles, scenes, goals, actions, objects, attributes, relationships, subframes, and scripts.

Components of a Frame:


Speech Acts: Clarifying Intent

Speech Acts theory focuses on the actions performed via utterances. Different types of speech acts, such as requests, commands, questions, and declarations, clarify the intended action in your prompt. Specifying the type of speech act helps in directing the respondent's response towards a particular communicative function.

Types of Speech Acts:


Halliday's Systemic Functional Grammar: Structuring Language

Halliday's Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG) emphasizes the functions of language, helping in understanding how language operates in different contexts and for various purposes. By focusing on the ideational, interpersonal, and textual functions of language, prompts can be crafted to ensure they meet specific communicative goals.

Aspects of FSG:

Key Components for Writing Prompts

Combining Theories for Effective Prompts

By integrating Role Theory, Minsky's Frame System Theory, Speech Acts, and Halliday's Systemic Functional Grammar, you can create prompts that are not only clear and purposeful but also contextually rich and functionally diverse.

Comprehensive Example:

Role: Manager Frame: Weekly team meeting Speech Act: Feedback FSG Components: Ideational (describe actions), Interpersonal (interaction with team), Textual (cohesion and information flow)

Prompt: "As a manager in a weekly team meeting, provide constructive feedback on your team's recent performance. Start by describing the key achievements and areas for improvement. Ensure you engage with the team members by asking for their input and suggestions."

Explanation: This prompt integrates all four theories:

Tips for Crafting Effective Prompts

By applying these theories and grammatical aspects, you can craft prompts that effectively elicit thoughtful, relevant, and well-structured responses, enhancing communication and interaction in various contexts.

Appendix 1 - Minsky's Frame System Theory

Minsky's Frame System Theory provides a structured way to organize knowledge and context, which can be highly beneficial for writing prompts. Frames contain various components that help to define the context and guide the respondent's understanding and responses. Here are the relevant components of a frame that are particularly useful when crafting prompts:

Components of a Frame

Using Frame Components in Prompts

When writing prompts, incorporating these frame components ensures that the scenario is well-defined and contextually rich. Here are examples demonstrating how to use these components:

Example 1:

Role: Teacher Scene: Classroom Goal: Explain a concept Action: Teach Object: Whiteboard Attributes: Middle school students Relationships: Teacher-student Script: Introduction, explanation, Q&A

Prompt: "As a teacher in a middle school classroom, use the whiteboard to explain the concept of gravity to your students. Start with an introduction, explain the key points, and then answer any questions they may have."

Example 2:

Role: Customer Service Representative Scene: Call Center Goal: Resolve a complaint Action: Apologize and offer a solution Object: Customer account details Attributes: Polite and empathetic Relationships: Representative-customer Script: Greeting, listening to the complaint, apologizing, providing a solution, closing the call

Prompt: "Imagine you are a customer service representative at a call centre. A customer calls in to complain about a billing error. Apologize for the mistake, review their account details, and offer a solution to resolve the issue. Ensure you close the call politely."

Example 3:

Role: Doctor Scene: Medical Consultation Room Goal: Diagnose and advise Action: Conduct a consultation Object: Medical records Attributes: Professional and empathetic Relationships: Doctor-patient Script: Greeting, patient history review, examination, diagnosis, advice

Prompt: "As a doctor during a medical consultation, review the patient's medical records and conduct an examination. Diagnose the patient's condition and provide advice on the appropriate treatment plan. Ensure you communicate empathetically throughout the consultation."

Example 4:

Role: Manager Scene: Office Goal: Assign tasks for a project Action: Provide instructions Object: Project plan Attributes: Clear and authoritative Relationships: Manager-team Script: Briefing, task assignment, Q&A

Prompt: "As a manager in an office setting, brief your team on the new project. Use the project plan to assign specific tasks to each team member and explain their responsibilities. Ensure you address any questions they may have."

Appendix 2 – Role Theory

Here is a list of common roles that can be used when crafting prompts, covering a wide range of scenarios and contexts:

Educational Roles

1.        Teacher

2.        Student

3.        Principal

4.        School Counselor

5.        Tutor

6.        Teaching Assistant

7.        Professor

8.        Dean

9.        Lecturer

10.   Researcher

Professional and Workplace Roles

1.        Manager

2.        Employee

3.        Intern

4.        CEO

5.        Human Resources Manager

6.        Team Leader

7.        Project Manager

8.        Consultant

9.        Accountant

10.   Engineer

11.   Designer

12.   Sales Representative

13.   Marketing Manager

14.   Product Manager

15.   IT Specialist

16.   Data Analyst

17.   Customer Service Representative

18.   Administrative Assistant

19.   Receptionist

Healthcare Roles

1.        Doctor

2.        Nurse

3.        Surgeon

4.        Pharmacist

5.        Therapist

6.        Psychologist

7.        Dentist

8.        Medical Assistant

9.        Paramedic

10.   Lab Technician

Legal and Government Roles

1.        Lawyer

2.        Judge

3.        Police Officer

4.        Firefighter

5.        Politician

6.        Government Official

7.        Diplomat

8.        Civil Servant

9.        Public Defender

10.   Prosecutor

Customer Service and Retail Roles

1.        Cashier

2.        Store Manager

3.        Sales Associate

4.        Customer Support Agent

5.        Barista

6.        Waiter/Waitress

7.        Bartender

8.        Chef

9.        Delivery Driver

10.   Retail Buyer

Creative and Media Roles

1.        Writer

2.        Editor

3.        Journalist

4.        Photographer

5.        Videographer

6.        Graphic Designer

7.        Artist

8.        Musician

9.        Actor

10.   Director

11.   Producer

12.   Content Creator

Technical and Scientific Roles

1.        Scientist

2.        Researcher

3.        Engineer

4.        Software Developer

5.        System Administrator

6.        Technician

7.        Lab Scientist

8.        Data Scientist

9.        Biologist

10.   Physicist

Financial and Business Roles

1.        Banker

2.        Financial Analyst

3.        Investment Banker

4.        Stockbroker

5.        Auditor

6.        Financial Advisor

7.        Economist

8.        Business Analyst

9.        Entrepreneur

Social and Community Roles

1.        Volunteer

2.        Social Worker

3.        Community Organizer

4.        Activist

5.        Counsellor

6.        Mentor

7.        Coach

8.        Nonprofit Director

Hospitality and Travel Roles

1.        Hotel Manager

2.        Travel Agent

3.        Tour Guide

4.        Event Planner

5.        Flight Attendant

6.        Pilot

7.        Concierge

Family and Personal Roles

1.        Parent

2.        Child

3.        Sibling

4.        Grandparent

5.        Spouse

6.        Friend

7.        Neighbor

8.        Guardian

9.        Pet Owner

Miscellaneous Roles

1.        Athlete

2.        Referee

3.        Coach

4.        Trainer

5.        Librarian

6.        Historian

7.        Archaeologist

8.        Clergy Member

9.        Chaplain

10.   Monk

11.   Nun

Example Prompts Using Various Roles

1.        Teacher: "As a teacher, how would you introduce a new topic in your science class?"

2.        Doctor: "As a doctor, how would you explain the treatment plan to a patient diagnosed with diabetes?"

3.        Customer Service Representative: "As a customer service representative, how would you handle a call from an irate customer?"

4.        Manager: "As a manager, how would you motivate your team during a challenging project?"

5.        Parent: "As a parent, how would you address your child's concerns about starting a new school?"

6.        Lawyer: "As a lawyer, how would you prepare your client for a court hearing?"

7.        Journalist: "As a journalist, how would you conduct an interview with a prominent public figure?"

8.        Sales Associate: "As a sales associate, how would you approach a customer looking for a specific product?"

9.        Volunteer: "As a volunteer at a community shelter, how would you assist new arrivals?"

10.   Event Planner: "As an event planner, how would you organize a corporate event for 200 attendees?"

By considering these roles when writing prompts, you can tailor scenarios to be contextually relevant and engaging, ensuring that the respondents can provide thoughtful and accurate responses based on their understanding of the role-specific expectations and behaviours.

Appendix 3 – Speech Acts

Categories of Speech Acts

·        Assertions: Stating facts or beliefs.

·        Descriptions: Providing details or explanations.

·        Claims: Declaring something to be the case.

·        Reports: Relating information about events or situations.

·        Predictions: Stating what will happen in the future.

·        Explanations: Clarifying or elucidating something.

·        Conjectures: Speculating or guessing about something.

·        Requests: Politely asking for something.

·        Commands: Giving an authoritative order.

·        Suggestions: Proposing a course of action.

·        Advice: Recommending something.

·        Instructions: Providing guidance or directions.

·        Invitations: Asking someone to join or attend.

·        Warnings: Cautioning about potential danger or issues.

·        Challenges: Provoking or inviting someone to respond.

·        Promises: Assuring to do something in the future.

·        Offers: Proposing to do something for someone.

·        Vows: Making a solemn promise.

·        Pledges: Committing to a course of action.

·        Threats: Stating intention to harm or punish if conditions are not met.

·        Guarantees: Assuring that something will happen or be done.

·        Apologies: Expressing regret.

·        Thanks: Showing gratitude.

·        Congratulations: Expressing joy for someone’s success or happiness.

·        Condolences: Expressing sympathy for someone’s loss.

·        Greetings: Saying hello or goodbye.

·        Compliments: Praising someone.

·        Complaints: Expressing dissatisfaction or annoyance.

·        Laments: Expressing grief or sorrow.

·        Pronouncements: Declaring something to be the case.

·        Resignations: Announcing the intention to leave a position.

·        Appointments: Designating someone to a position or role.

·        Dismissals: Terminating someone’s role or position.

·        Baptisms: Naming or renaming.

·        Sentencings: Declaring a judicial decision.

·        Marriages: Performing a matrimonial ceremony.

Examples of Speech Acts in Prompts

·        Assertion: "State the main argument of your favorite book."

·        Description: "Describe your morning routine."

·        Prediction: "Predict the outcome of the upcoming election."

·        Request: "Could you please pass the salt?"

·        Command: "Finish your homework before dinner."

·        Suggestion: "Why don't you try restarting your computer?"

·        Advice: "I recommend taking vitamin C to boost your immune system."

·        Instruction: "Explain how to bake a chocolate cake step by step."

·        Promise: "I will call you as soon as I get home."

·        Offer: "Would you like me to help you with your project?"

·        Threat: "If you don't pay the bill, your service will be disconnected."

·        Apology: "I apologize for being late."

·        Thanks: "Thank you for your help."

·        Congratulations: "Congratulations on your promotion!"

·        Condolence: "I'm sorry for your loss."

·        Pronouncement: "I now declare this meeting adjourned."

·        Resignation: "I hereby resign from my position as CEO."

·        Appointment: "You are appointed as the new team leader."


By recognizing and utilizing these various types of speech acts, you can craft prompts that clearly convey the intended function and elicit the desired response from the respondent. This nuanced approach enhances communication and ensures that the prompts are contextually appropriate and functionally effective.

Appendix 4 - Systemic functional grammar

Halliday's Functional Systemic Grammar (FSG) focuses on how language is used to achieve different functions in communication. When writing prompts, leveraging aspects of FSG can help in crafting clear, purposeful, and contextually appropriate prompts. Here are the key aspects of Systemic Functional Grammar that are relevant to writing prompts:

Aspects of Systemic Functional Grammar

Key Components for Writing Prompts

Examples of Prompts Using SFG Components

By incorporating these aspects of Systemic Functional Grammar into your prompts, you can ensure that they are functionally diverse, contextually rich, and linguistically coherent. This approach helps in eliciting well-structured and meaningful responses from the participants.


 Apendix 5 - LLM System Prompt for an Enhanced version

You are an assistant tasked with helping users create effective prompts for interacting with AI Systems by applying the Enhanced Integrated Prompt Design Framework (EIPDF). EIPDF integrates multiple theories to ensure that prompts are clear, contextually rich, and purposefully structured. Your task is to guide users in crafting prompts using the following theories:



Use these instructions and examples to assist users in crafting effective prompts for interacting with AI Systems and exploring the English language, ensuring clarity, relevance, and engagement in every interaction.