East Asia

Thai visitors’ expectations and experiences of explainer interaction within a science museum context

Supara Kamolpattana, Ganigar Chen, Pichai Sonchaeng, Clare Wilkinson, Neil Willey, Karen Bultitude

In Western literature, there is evidence that museum explainers offer significant potential for enhancing visitors’ learning through influencing their knowledge, content, action, behaviour and attitudes. However, little research has focused on the role of explainers in other cultural contexts. This study explored interactions between visitors and museum explainers within the setting of Thailand. Two questionnaires were distributed to 600 visitors and 41 museum explainers. The results demonstrated both potential similarities and differences with Western contexts. Explainers appeared to prefer didactic approaches, focussing on factual knowledge rather than encouraging deep learning. Two-way communication, however, appeared to be enhanced by the use of a ‘pseudo-sibling relationship’ by explainers. Traditional Thai social reserve was reduced through such approaches, with visitors taking on active learning roles. These findings have implications for training museum explainers in non-Western cultures, as well as museum communication practice more generally.

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Relationship between scientific knowledge and fortune-telling

Paichi Pat Shein, Yuh-Yuh Li, Tai-Chu Huang

This study takes on a relational and situated perspective to understand the relationship between scientific knowledge and fortune-telling. Measures included socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge of scientific facts and methods, and fortune-telling beliefs and practices. A sample of 1863 adults was drawn from a population of Taiwanese citizens using the method of probability proportional to size. The findings showed that knowledge of scientific methods was negatively associated with fortune-telling beliefs. However, knowledge of scientific facts was, by and large, positively associated with engagement in fortune-telling practices, a phenomenon known as cognitive polyphasia. This study does not imply that science communication or education have no effect on promoting scientific knowledge; rather, it hopes to encourage researchers and practitioners to use a culturally sensitive lens to rethink the role of science in society and its relationship with other forms of knowledge and belief.

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Come rain or shine? Public expectation on local weather change and differential effects on climate change attitude

Alex Y. Lo, C. Y. Jim

Tailored messages are instrumental to climate change communication. Information about the global threat can be ‘localised’ by demonstrating its linkage with local events. This research ascertains the relationship between climate change attitude and perception of local weather, based on a survey involving 800 Hong Kong citizens. Results indicate that concerns about climate change increase with expectations about the likelihood and impacts of local weather change. Climate change believers attend to all three types of adverse weather events, namely, temperature rises, tropical cyclones and prolonged rains. Climate scepticism, however, is not associated with expectation about prolonged rains. Differential spatial orientations are a possible reason. Global climate change is an unprecedented and distant threat, whereas local rain is a more familiar and localised weather event. Global climate change should be articulated in terms that respect local concerns. Localised framing may be particularly effective for engaging individuals holding positive views about climate change science.

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Taiwanese life scientists less “medialized” than their Western colleagues

Yin-Yueh Lo, Hans Peter Peters

The article presents results from surveys of life scientists in Taiwan (n = 270) and in Germany (n = 326). Fewer Taiwanese than German researchers have frequent contact with the media and they rate their experiences with journalists less positively. Furthermore, they are less prepared to adapt to journalistic expectations and to a greater extent than German researchers they expect journalists to consider scientific criteria in their reporting. These findings are interpreted in Weingart’s “medialization of science” framework as indicators of lower medialization of science in Taiwan than in Germany. However, Taiwanese scientists are more willing than German scientists to accept journalistic simplification at the expense of accuracy. This is explained as an adaptation to the media system and to the perceived scientific literacy of the media audience. We hypothesize that cultural differences regarding the relative priority of relational vs. rational communication goals may also contribute to more tolerance of journalistic simplification in Taiwan.

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