Science of Science Communication

In October 2014, as part of the celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Annenberg Public Policy Center announced it would open a new area of study, the Science of Science Communication, to investigate how scientific evidence can be more effectively conveyed to the public. This area will look at the failure to dispel public controversy over such issues as climate change, vaccinations, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) despite the presence of valid, compelling and widely accessible scientific evidence. “There’s a persistent gap between expert knowledge of scientific issues and public perception on myriad issues,” APPC director Kathleen Hall Jamieson said. “Through empirical testing, we will examine ways to close this gap and separate the issues in communicating science from the evidence that is being presented.” She said APPC also will study such issues as the self-correcting nature of science, and whether corrections and retractions contribute to a perception that the science itself is flawed. This area builds on past APPC projects such as the dissemination of media guidelines for suicide coverage, and the Annenberg Health Communication wiki, a site to help professional health communicators make better use of state-of-the-art social science.

    Pope’s Encyclical Boosted His Credibility on Climate Change, Especially Among Liberals

    Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical on climate change, “Laudato si’,” sought to leverage the pontiff’s moral authority and draw attention to climate change as a global issue that disproportionately harms the poor. Advocates for climate change mitigation had hoped that that urgent message, coming from the leader of a socially conservative religious institution, would raise concern
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    Processing the papal encyclical through perceptual filters: Pope Francis, identity-protective cognition, and climate change concern

    Based on analysis of panel data collected before and after the encyclical’s release, this article finds that political ideology moderated views of papal credibility on climate change for those participants who were aware of the encyclical. Importantly, papal credibility mediated the conditional relationships between encyclical awareness and acceptance of the Pope’s messages on climate change. The authors conclude by discussing how the results provide insight into cognitive processing of new information about controversial issues.
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    Pope Francis and Climate Change Cognition – Supplementary Material

    In press. Abstract: Previous research suggests that when individuals encounter new information, they interpret it through perceptual ‘filters’ of prior beliefs, relevant social identities, and messenger credibility. In short, evaluations are not based solely on message accuracy, but also on the extent to which the message and messenger are amenable to the values of one’s
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