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date: 29 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This synthesis chapter summarizes the central themes from the essays in Part VI of the handbook. The uniting refrain of this section is the important role of the audience, and specifically how audience choices, attention, biases, and heuristics affect interpretation of complex scientific topics. We first summarize what we term “phenomena of selection” and describes empirical insights indicating that audience and communicator choices can cause diverging views. The second focus is how audiences reason about scientific information, with particular attention to some of these biases and motivations relied on in these contexts. The unique challenges these phenomena pose to the field are then discussed, including (a) how communicators can effectively condense scientific information while retaining accuracy and the interest of audiences and (b) how science communication must accommodate for audiences’ use of values and cognitive shortcuts to make sense of these issues.

Keywords: heuristics, biases, values, selective exposure, confirmation bias, selective judgment, scientific information, audiences

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