The Science of Science Communication
Why as science furnishes more and more knowledge essential to their well-being do members of culturally diverse groups agree less and less about the risks they confront and the policies best suited for abating them? This project seeks to use science’s own signature methods of disciplined observation and inference to identify and solve the “science communication problem” distinctive of contemporary pluralistic democracies.
Evidence-based Science Filmmaking
How can science filmmakers satisfy the appetite that culturally diverse citizens share in experiencing wonder and awe in scientific discovery? How in particular can they make it possible for curious individuals to avoid having to choose between enjoying that experience and enjoying the sense of community they derive from their membership in groups tragically entangled in recriminatory controversies over issues like evolution and climate change? The animating hypothesis of this project is that science filmmakers can use science to help them answer these very questions.
Science Literacy and Cultural Polarization
The capacity of citizens to make sense of climate change and other risk issues depends at least in part on their knowledge of science and their ability to engage in technical reasoning. Perversely, however, citizens who are the most proficient in these forms of critical reasoning have been shown to be the most most polarized on culturally contested risks. This aim of this project is to identify the conditions that create this tragic conflict between civic science comprehension and constructive civic deliberations on societal risks.
Cultural Cognition and Law
In a liberal society, the state is forbidden to “pick sides” between citizens who subscribe to different visions of the best way of life and must confine legal obligations to ones consistent with interests shared by all citizens. But is this basic constitutional principle psychologically realistic? This project investigates how cultural cognition influences jurors’ determination of facts, judges’ interpretations of law, and citizens’ perceptions of the neutrality of the outcomes in cases suffused with cultural conflict.
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Evidence based science communication initiative
In recent years, the field of science communication has been marked by both progress and frustration. On one hand, basic research has yielded a wealth of new insights into the processes by which scientific information is acquired and interpreted by the public. On the other, increasingly elaborate and costly initiatives to communicate scientific information have spectacularly failed to dispel cultural conflict over climate change and other disputed science issues.
The reason the science of science communication is yet to generate real-world benefits, we believe, is that it is yet to set foot in the real world.
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Protecting the Vaccine Science Communication Environment
This project has two goals: first, to enlarge societal understanding of how to promote informed public engagement with valid empirical evidence on the efficacy and safety of vaccines; and second, to advance societal recognition of the need to use valid empirical evidence to guide communication on vaccines and other applications of science essential to societal well-being.
Cultural cognition of law
Adjudication frequently turns on contested issues of fact (e.g., whether a battered woman who claims she killed in self-defense reasonably perceived an immediate threat of death), which must be determined either by juries or judges. CCP researchers are conducting experimental studies to determine how cultural values influence adjudicatory factual determinations and public reactions to the same.
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Gun Risk Perceptions
Who fears guns, who fears gun control, and why? Project members use the cultural theory of risk to answer these questions.
Second National Risk & Culture Study
Americans are culturally polarized on a range of societal risks–from global warming to domestic terrorism, from school shootings to vaccination of school-age girls for HPV. Reporting the results of surveys and experiments involving some 5,000 Americans, the study identifies the causes of this condition and steps that can be taken to counteract it. [download study]
First National Risk & Culture Study
Funded by the National Science Foundation, Project members conducted an 1800-person national survey that found that cultural worldviews better predicted perceptions of various risks than did any other individual characteristic.