University of East Anglia
Duration of PhD
Kenny Coventry (Psychology, UEA), Irene Lorenzoni (ENV, UEA), Tim Shipley (Psychology, Temple)
My Thesis' Abstract
Diagrams, graphs and other schematics are essential tools in science communicators’ toolkits to communicate complex scientific data and concepts in an easily accessible format. These visual-spatial displays ‘augment’ cognition – they store and organise information for us, and provide visually salient cues about the relationships between variables. Without such displays, we would have to exert additional mental effort to compute the raw information (e.g. numbers, text) into something meaningful. Effective communication of spatio-temporal relationships is critical in the field of climate change – for example, policy makers need to know how different emission scenarios might affect temperatures at different points across the globe over time.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) use visual-spatial displays of various designs within their assessment reports to aid communication between scientists and with policy makers. However, given the pressures involved in developing international scientific consensus, are the graphs and figures that make it into the reports designed as optimally as they could be? and how could they be improved? My research will aim to improve our understanding of our cognitive processes and cognitive biases when interpreting spatio-temporal information, and translate these insights into practical applications to improve the design of visual-spatial displays to aid comprehension (and consequently decision-making), in climate change communications.