Article: article from journal or magazin.
Man Made Black Holes and Big Bangs: Diffusion and Integration of Scientific Information into Everyday Thinking
Public Understanding of Science
first published on-line (2011)
Drawing on Social Representations Theory, this study investigates focalisation and anchoring during the diffusion of information concerning the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the particle accelerator at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN). We hypothesised that people focus on striking elements of the message, abandoning others, that the nature of the initial information affects diffusion of information, and that information is anchored in prior attitudes toward CERN and science. A serial reproduction experiment with two generations and four chains of reproduction diffusing controversial versus descriptive information about the LHC shows a reduction of information through generations, the persistence of terminology regarding the controversy and a decrease of other elements for participants exposed to polemical information. Concerning anchoring, positive attitudes toward CERN and science increase the use of expert terminology unrelated to the controversy. This research highlights the relevance of a social representational approach in the public understanding of science.
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