From Joe Cone (Oregon Sea Grant):
Decision Making Model
Here’s a model that in a linear form outlines the key participants
in decision making; it’s the underlying model of communication that
Oregon used in our 2007-10 project funded by the NOAA Climate
Communicating with non-specialists about –
ultimately -- the risks associated with climate change, is
categorically a “risk communication” challenge. So our Oregon
project began with a well-established approach to risk
communication as the default framework of our project design – the
approach developed by Morgan and colleagues (published in 2002).
Their risk communication model derives from the study of behavioral
decision making and develops communication that helps the audience
make decisions but does not try to persuade. That’s “nonpersuasive”
not “unpersuasive.” (This particular graphic was adapted from the
work of one of the Morgan colleagues.)
effective communication of risk – say climate
risk – involves “domain scientists” (at the left) – in this case,
climate scientists. And it involves communicators, at the right.
The climate scientists represent the research by developing and
providing science based information. The communicators design
appropriate materials and engage users. So far, typical. What’s
different is the middle boxes and the prominence of users.
Critically, the model shows that additional social research is
needed to understand not only the motivators but also the
barrier/constraints of users/stakeholders/decision-makers. In
addition out of all the [climate] science that a scientist might
want to present to users, social researchers [optimally, decision
researchers] consider both the behavioral research and the climate
science to help determine what science is relevant to the decisions
the users want to make.
The Morgan et al. risk communication approach is
different from much public communication about science, especially
from some resource agencies, in its focus on what decisions the
user or audience wishes to make, rather than on what the “experts”
might like to tell them. The ethical foundation of such so-called
“nonpersuasive” communication – which is very compatible with the
norms of university outreach -- is a respect for and trust in the
receiver of the communication. That receiver/user is actually
central to the model.