A recap: Heuristics, biases, values, and other challenges to communicating science

Heather Akin, Asheley R. Landrum

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

7 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780190497620
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Audiences
  • Biases
  • Confirmation bias
  • Heuristics
  • Scientific information
  • Selective exposure
  • Selective judgment
  • Values


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