Graphic design could be holding back action on climate change—here's how | 5/18/2017 | Staff
moemajor (Posted by) Level 3
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Can the design of a climate change message change someone's beliefs? Absolutely, and with a surprisingly powerful correlation.

My research found climate change messages that spark fear and disgust were more likely to be seen as trustworthy by some audiences, compared to a graphic perceived to come from a corporate source.

Digital - Technology - Degree - Messages - Change

Digital technology has surged, and we are exposed to a much higher degree of designed visual messages than we used to be. But climate change is incredibly politicised – especially in Australia – and despite a wealth of literature on climate change communication strategies, little is understood about how visual communication contributes to uptake of the message.

My findings show critical components of visual communication, such as colour, imagery, logos and how they all work together, can convey unintended meanings and lead to distrust, even when the viewer believes climate change is real.


Interpreting 'authority'

A CSIRO study from 2015 showed while 81% of Australians agree climate change was happening, more than half weren't concerned about the implications. And less than half attributed climate change to human influence.

Statistics - Climate - Change - Communication - Designs

These statistics are alarming, so it's important effective climate change communication is rolled out, with trustworthy designs.

And it matters who or what authority is perceived to be behind the climate change message: whether they are perceived as originating from a grassroots or a more corporate end of the spectrum.

Studies - Understanding - Type - Organisation - Trust

Previous studies have suggested a clear understanding of which type of organisation is speaking can engender trust in a climate change message, particularly in an era when trust in corporate authorities has diminished.

However, my study showed the situation is more nuanced than this.

Message - Design - Loss - Trust - Evidence

Even a grassroots message can be misinterpreted due to its visual design, leading to a loss of trust in what could otherwise be considered compelling evidence.

What makes a design trustworthy?

Month - Group

Over a month, I asked a group of...
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