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When science communication gets personal. researchers' self-disclosure and laypeople's trust in science
When science communication gets personal. researchers' self-disclosure and laypeople's trust in science
Laypeople’s trust in science might be obstructed by their stereotypical views of researchers as highly competent, yet only moderately warm. To counter this perception of lacking warmth, researchers could engage in self-disclosing science communication (e.g., revealing basic personal information, thoughts about one’s own work, or one’s personal involvement with the research topic), potentially promoting their affective trustworthiness, and, thus, laypeople’s trust in science. However, such self-disclosure could also have adverse effects by violating expectations of appropriateness, professionalism and objectivity. This dissertation draws on theory about stereotypes, trust in science, and self-disclosure, and applies it to science communication. It includes three manuscripts and eleven empirical studies demonstrating small and ambivalent effects of researchers’ self-disclosure on laypeople’s trust in science, it explores potential boundaries of these effects (e.g., self-disclosure content and recipients’ attitudes), and it provides important insights into the conceptualization of trust in science. I discuss limitations as well as theoretical and practical implications of this research program and, finally, I highlight further directions for future research.
trust in science, trustworthiness, credibility, science communication, self-disclosure
Altenmüller, Marlene Sophie
2022
English
Universitätsbibliothek der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Altenmüller, Marlene Sophie (2022): When science communication gets personal: researchers' self-disclosure and laypeople's trust in science. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences
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Abstract

Laypeople’s trust in science might be obstructed by their stereotypical views of researchers as highly competent, yet only moderately warm. To counter this perception of lacking warmth, researchers could engage in self-disclosing science communication (e.g., revealing basic personal information, thoughts about one’s own work, or one’s personal involvement with the research topic), potentially promoting their affective trustworthiness, and, thus, laypeople’s trust in science. However, such self-disclosure could also have adverse effects by violating expectations of appropriateness, professionalism and objectivity. This dissertation draws on theory about stereotypes, trust in science, and self-disclosure, and applies it to science communication. It includes three manuscripts and eleven empirical studies demonstrating small and ambivalent effects of researchers’ self-disclosure on laypeople’s trust in science, it explores potential boundaries of these effects (e.g., self-disclosure content and recipients’ attitudes), and it provides important insights into the conceptualization of trust in science. I discuss limitations as well as theoretical and practical implications of this research program and, finally, I highlight further directions for future research.