Blinded with science: Trivial graphs and formulas increase ad persuasiveness and belief in product efficacy

Aner Tal and Brian Wansink

The appearance of being scientific can increase persuasiveness. Even trivial cues can create such an appearance of a scientific basis. In our studies, including simple elements, such as graphs (Studies 1–2) or a chemical formula (Study 3), increased belief in a medication’s efficacy. This appears to be due to the association of such elements with science, rather than increased comprehensibility, use of visuals, or recall. Belief in science moderates the persuasive effect of graphs, such that people who have a greater belief in science are more affected by the presence of graphs (Study 2). Overall, the studies contribute to past research by demonstrating that even trivial elements can increase public persuasion despite their not truly indicating scientific expertise or objective support.



An Analysis of the Narrative-Building Features of Interactive Sea Level Rise Viewers

Sonia H. Stephens, Denise E. DeLorme, Scott C. Hagen

Interactive sea level rise viewers (ISLRVs) are map-based visualization tools that display projections of sea level rise scenarios to communicate their impacts on coastal areas. Information visualization research suggests that as users interact with such tools they construct personalized narratives of their experience. We argue that attention to narrative-building features in ISLRVs can improve communication effectiveness by promoting user engagement and discovery. A content analysis that focuses on the presence and characteristics of narrative-building features in a purposive sample of 20 ISLRVs is conducted. We also identify particular areas where these ISLRVs could be improved as narrative-building tools.


“Dye in the Water” – A Visual Approach to Communicating the Rip Current Hazard

Robert W. Brander, Danielle Drozdzewski, Dale Dominey-Howes (SC)

Many beaches are characterized by rip currents—strong, narrow flows that can quickly carry bathers offshore, often against their will. However, despite long-standing efforts at community education and awareness strategies, people continue to drown in rip currents at high rates. Here we describe a simple, but powerful visual-based risk communication approach involving imagery associated with releases of colored dye into rip currents that has been used as an outreach tool with success in Australia. This approach has the potential to transcend limitations of traditional education approaches and bring the rip current hazard to life for a largely unaware public.