SciComm - Effective Science Communication


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Presented at SciComm 2016, Lincoln, Nebraska, September 24, 2016.


Copyright © 2016 Lisa Pennisi


Myths: •People just need to know the facts •People just need to be aware of the issues & consequences •People just need to see the $$ •Attitudes lead to behavior

Does knowledge lead to behavior?
•Knowledge correlates with behavior True
•Education increases knowledge True
•Increasing knowledge leads to behavior change False

What motivates behavior?

•Awareness campaigns can produce the opposite of goal –they use norms describing undesired behavior •boomerang effects –can cause the opposite effect as some conform with perceived social norms

The problem is WE are the evaluator of potential success based on what works for us. But we are not our audience. We cannot assume. Not about knowledge. Not about values. We must ask the audience and we must appeal to their needs.

What makes an effective message? What are the Do’s?

Behavior Change Strategies •Appeal to identity •Likeable source •Reciprocity, Scarcity •Be careful of incentives •Commitment •Prompts •Modeling –social proof, norms •Feedback •Involving narrative

Using norms to create change

Creating a Culture of Change •Individual Role Models •Emotional ties •Culture •Norms •Empowerment •Collective identity

Some Current Projects •Campus Recycling and Composting •Backpacks for Adventures •Replacing Trees –decisions and emotions