Infotainment may increase engagement with science but It can decrease perceptions of seriousness
Science communication
Environmental communication
Public perception of science and technology
Science and media
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Davis, L. (Lloyd); León-Anguiano, B. (Bienvenido); Michael J. Bourk; et al. "Infotainment may increase engagement with science but It can decrease perceptions of seriousness". Sustainability. 14, 2022, 10659
We presented 867 participants with one of two videos about climate change that differed only in terms of whether they had an infotainment or expository narration. They were available in either English or Spanish. The participants consisted of two distinct clusters: one in which all were over 30 with a university degree, and another dominated by younger participants without a university degree. The infotainment version produced a significantly reduced perception of the seriousness of climate change for the planet in the latter cluster. Furthermore, viewers of the English versions, who were predominantly residents in countries with low-context cultures, perceived the risk of climate change for the planet to be significantly higher after watching the video with the expository narration. Using infotainment for science communication is a two-edged sword: while it may help engagement, making light of a topic can reduce perceptions about its seriousness. We suggest that the use of infotainment should be determined by the aims of the communicators and the nature of the target audience. If the purpose is simply to convey information, then infotainment is likely to be the most effective and it has the additional benefit of engaging recipients that lack a university education. However, if the purpose is to affect attitudes and persuade an audience, then an expository narration is likely to be most effective.

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