‘Scientific heroes’ – those publicly depicted or identified as heroically representing, practicing or speaking for science – are readily identified in the popular print and television media. But little is known about what impact such individuals have on the public image of science or what makes some better spokespeople for science than others. From an initial literature review, it appears that little is known about the extent to which heroes of science share common qualities and pathways, en route to becoming established in the public imagination. Similarly, little is known about how members of society react to them, or what influence they really have in the public domain. This issue is of increasing relevance, as science communication gains strength as a discipline and governments and organisations globally seek to increase public engagement with science by promoting scientists and scientific spokespeople as public role models. Currently the precise science communication techniques, personal attributes and transmission pathways influencing successful outcomes in such programmes are not well understood. Little in‐depth research has been conducted into what interpersonal factors contribute to these results, or precisely how the personal qualities or communication skills of scientists involved in such programmes influence the outcomes, if at all. This poster presents the results of early stage PhD research into these questions. It will have relevance to those seeking to use science to influence public behaviour and/or drive attitudinal change. Those to whom the research may be particularly important include organisations and government agencies investing in science communication programmes and strategies, individual scientists or science communicators involved in presenting science to the public, media bodies who regularly create and scout for science 'talent', and other researchers in the field of science and technology communication.

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PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Heroes in Science – public image, inspiration and impact.

Bobby Cerini   Australian National University

‘Scientific heroes’ – those publicly depicted or identified as heroically representing, practicing or speaking for science – are readily identified in the popular print and television media. But little is known about what impact such individuals have on the public image of science or what makes some better spokespeople for science than others. From an initial literature review, it appears that little is known about the extent to which heroes of science share common qualities and pathways, en route to becoming established in the public imagination. Similarly, little is known about how members of society react to them, or what influence they really have in the public domain. This issue is of increasing relevance, as science communication gains strength as a discipline and governments and organisations globally seek to increase public engagement with science by promoting scientists and scientific spokespeople as public role models. Currently the precise science communication techniques, personal attributes and transmission pathways influencing successful outcomes in such programmes are not well understood. Little in‐depth research has been conducted into what interpersonal factors contribute to these results, or precisely how the personal qualities or communication skills of scientists involved in such programmes influence the outcomes, if at all. This poster presents the results of early stage PhD research into these questions. It will have relevance to those seeking to use science to influence public behaviour and/or drive attitudinal change. Those to whom the research may be particularly important include organisations and government agencies investing in science communication programmes and strategies, individual scientists or science communicators involved in presenting science to the public, media bodies who regularly create and scout for science 'talent', and other researchers in the field of science and technology communication.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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