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date: 06 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Science communication is difficult because, rather than understanding and using important, often numeric, information, lay people and experts alike resort to superficial heuristic processing of information. This chapter examines heuristic processing with respect to the power of experience, the affect heuristic, and framing effects along with their interactions with innumeracy. Recommendations are made for how to improve science communication to decrease use of heuristic processing and improve use of numeric information in risk perceptions and decision making. Based on existing evidence, science communicators should carefully identify communication goals and then choose evidence-based strategies to meet them. Evidence-based strategies include providing numeric information (as opposed to not providing it), reducing cognitive effort, increasing affective meaning, and drawing attention to key information.

Keywords: numeracy, heuristics, numeric information, decision making, risk perceptions, science communication, experience, affect heuristic, framing effects, innumeracy

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