Testing Map Features Designed to Convey the Uncertainty of Cancer Risk: Insights Gained From Assessing Judgments of Information Adequacy and Communication Goals

Dolores J. Severtson

Barriers to communicating the uncertainty of environmental health risks include preferences for certain information and low numeracy. Map features designed to communicate the magnitude and uncertainty of estimated cancer risk from air pollution were tested among 826 participants to assess how map features influenced judgments of adequacy and the intended communication goals. An uncertain versus certain visual feature was judged as less adequate but met both communication goals and addressed numeracy barriers. Expressing relative risk using words communicated uncertainty and addressed numeracy barriers but was judged as highly inadequate. Risk communication and visual cognition concepts were applied to explain findings.



A Socioenvironmental Shale Gas Controversy: Scientists’ Public Communications, Social Responsibility and Collective Versus Individual Positions

Gregoire Molinatti, Lionel Simonneau

In this case study, we analyze the discourse, practices and representations of a group of scientists who issued public statements about the French shale gas controversy. The reasons they gave for engaging in this process of communication focused on their social responsibility, their collective ad hoc expertise and the neutrality of their position. We also investigated how these scientists actually produced their communications, despite the tensions between individual and collective positions. We discuss how this experience led them to reflect both individually and collectively on their representations of science in society.


Putting Environmental Infographics Center Stage: The Role of Visuals at the Elaboration Likelihood Model’s Critical Point of Persuasion

Allison Lazard and Lucy Atkinson

Infographics, which integrate visuals and text, can increase audience engagement with message content. Relying on two experiments, this study demonstrates the role of visuals for decisions to critically evaluate pro-environmental messages. Using the Elaboration Likelihood Model as a theoretical foundation, we demonstrate that individuals engage in greater levels of issue-relevant thinking when shown infographics compared to messages that rely just on text or just on illustration, with learning preferences and visual literacy as moderators. The findings demonstrate that visual content is an important factor for persuasive message processing, and infographic messages hold opportunities for the communication of environmental issues.


Citizen cartography, strategies of resistance to established knowledge and collective forms of knowledge building

Jorgelina Sannazzaro

Cultivation of genetically modified soybeans with the use of herbicides is now becoming widespread in Argentina. This work addresses an emblematic case of knowledge articulation between experts, professionals and communities, namely, the case of an association of people affected by fumigation Grupos de Pueblos Fumigados (GPF). The GPF warns against agrochemical spraying in urban areas, and its activists collect and disseminate information about its impact with a view to banning the practice. Here, we apply Parthasarathy’s framework, used to analyse the strategies employed by activists to break the expertise barrier, to the case of the GPF, adding a new category to her original four strategies. There is an institutionalizing potential in these social and environmental movements, many of which are organized in the form of Civic Assemblies. The composition of the assemblies reflects a heterogeneous and multi-sectorial character; they articulate a new kind of knowledge that can be an appropriate interlocutor for traditional expert knowledge.