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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Spring 2014 SENR Seminar Series

Feb 27, 2014, 4:00pm - 5:30pm


The SENR Seminar Series welcomes Adam Zwickle, Doctoral Candidate in the OSU Environment and Natural Resources Graduate Program, who will present Communicating Environmental Risks: The Effects of Message Frame on Risk Mitigating Behavior.

The field of risk communication is based on the idea that environmental and health risks should be communicated to those in danger in order for them to take steps to protect themselves. Over the last few decades there have been a number of theoretical advances in psychology, communication, and judgment and decision science to identify the effects risk messages have on the cognitive and behavioral response of the target audience. Taken together, this body of knowledge shows that the idea of a ‘neutral message frame,’ where one objectively presents data without influencing the audience, is a myth. Additionally, recent research also suggests that external factors, such as the prevalence of a risk in one’s area, have the potential to reverse the effects of a risk message. For example, framing a risk as local and using specific (as opposed to more general) data increases a messages effectiveness, but only when that risk is relatively uncommon in the individual’s local area. In light of these findings, thought and care should be taken prior to presenting risk information and data to the public in order to avoid any unintended effects.

The SENR Seminar begins at 4:10 p.m in 103 Kottman Hall with a video link to 123 Williams Hall on the Wooster campus.