Audience responses to television news coverage of medical advances: The mediating role of audience emotions and identification

Hyehyun Hong

Exemplifying a real person in news stories has become a popular journalistic technique to describe an event or issue. With the frequent appearance of medical news reports in local television in recent years, this news presentation style is widely believed to help audiences better engage in and understand complex medical information and to influence their perceptions and judgments. In terms of television news coverage of medical advances, this study investigates how audiences respond to embedded human examples (mainly patients who experience benefits from the advances) and to overall news stories, and how such responses are related to their perception of portrayed medical advances. The experimental results indicate that news stories with a human example were more likely to intensify the audience’s positive emotions than those without, which in turn influenced favorable perceptions of the described medical advance. In addition, the extent to which the audience identified with a human example (in particular, sympathy) mediated the relationship between the audience’s involvement in the news story and its perception of the portrayed medical advance.


Unravelling emotional viewpoints on a bio-based economy using Q methodology

Susanne Sleenhoff, Eefje Cuppen, Patricia Osseweijer

A transition to a bio-based economy will affect society and requires collective action from a broad range of stakeholders. This includes the public, who are largely unaware of this transition. For meaningful public engagement people’s emotional viewpoints play an important role. However, what the public’s emotions about the transition are and how they can be taken into account is underexposed in public engagement literature and practice. This article aims to unravel the public’s emotional views of the bio-based economy as a starting point for public engagement. Using Q methodology with visual representations of a bio-based economy we found four emotional viewpoints: (1) compassionate environmentalist, (2) principled optimist, (3) hopeful motorist and (4) cynical environmentalist. These provide insight into the distinct and shared ways through which members of the public connect with the transition. Implications for public engagement are discussed.


Attending to affect

David Fortus

A bit more than 10 years after Alsop and Watts pointed out that “Despite the widespread belief that emotions are a central part of learning and teaching, contemporary work in science education exploring affect is scant”, the level of attention given by science education researcher to affect has changed little. In the 11 years spanning 2001–2011, less than 10% of the articles published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching (JRST), Science Education (SciEd), and the International Journal of Science Education (IJSE) have dealt with emotional perspectives on teaching and learning science, such as interest, motivation, attitudes, and self- efficacy, sometimes called affect (Alsop & Watts, 2003). While this 10% actually reflects a significant number of articles (138), when one considers the centrality of affect to teaching and learning and the broad range of topics that are related to affect, it is concerning that it has received relatively so little attention.


Does a picture tell a thousand words? The uses of digitally produced, multimodal pictures for communicating information about Alzheimer’s disease

Amy R Dobos, Lindy A Orthia, Rod Lamberts

This study explored the science communication potential of visual imagery by gauging an audience’s interpretations of digitally enhanced, multimodal pictures depicting topics from recent Alzheimer’s disease research. Guided by social semiotic theory, we created four pictures intended to communicate information about Alzheimer’s disease unidirectionally, for an audience who had expressed interest in receiving such information (subscribers to an Alzheimer’s disease research newsletter). We then disseminated the pictures to that audience via an online survey, to determine whether respondents received the messages we intended to convey. Our results demonstrated that, without accompanying explanatory text, pictures are most useful for evoking emotions or making loose connections between major concepts, rather than for communicating specific messages based on Alzheimer’s research. In addition, participants more often expressed anger and frustration when the meaning of scientific imagery was unclear than when the meaning of emotional–social imagery was unclear.