The effects of communicating uncertainty on public trust in facts and numbers.

Activiteit: Academic presentationAcademic


Uncertainty is inherent to our knowledge about the state of the world, yet often not communicated alongside scientific facts and numbers. A common assumption among scientists and policy makers is that communicating uncertainty will reduce public trust. Yet, a lack of systematic research makes it difficult to evaluate such claims. We conducted four experiments and a field experiment with BBC News (total N = 5633) to examine whether communicating epistemic uncertainty about facts across different topics (e.g. global warming, immigration) and formats (verbal vs. numeric) influences public trust. Results show that whereas people do perceive greater uncertainty when it is communicated, we observed only a small decrease in trust in numbers and trustworthiness of the source, and mostly for verbal uncertainty communication. These results could help reassure all communicators of facts and science that they can be more open and transparent about the limits of human knowledge.
EvenementstitelRisk Communication Workshop: Using visualisations to overcome differences in risk perspectives between experts and citizens
LocatieBerlin, Germany
Mate van erkenningInternational