Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the influence of shared cognitive frames, in particular, that of institutional logics, on the deployment and use of performance measurement systems (PMSs) in the public sector. Design/methodology/approach: Using novel priming techniques derived from behavioral and social psychology, three institutional logics – the public, market-managerial and professional logics – are differentially surfaced in three independent experimental groups. The influence of these primed institutional logics on performance measurement use preferences are then empirically assessed using appropriate analysis of variance techniques. Findings: Contrary to theoretical predictions, the paper reveals logic congruence regarding some uses of PMSs in the public sector, and divergence regarding others. Individuals applying a public logic were more likely to propose performance measurement use for strategic planning or strategic alignment; while those applying a professional logic were more likely to propose performance measurement use for learning, compared to otherwise primed individuals. Research limitations/implications: Considering the sample size and the novelty of the priming tools, it is feasible that other potentially significant effects may have been missed. Originality/value: The paper addresses a gap in literature regarding the influence of shared cognitive frames on performance measurement use in public sector organizations. The paper further presents priming techniques embedded within an experimental design as an appropriate method for the micro-level study of attitudes, preferences and judgments in the public sector.