Knight Center student Carie Cunningham recently presented a content analysis of several Michigan State University communications about sustainable practices.
She presented an analysis of flyers and posters at the Environmental Science and Policy Program’s symposium on environmental risk and decision making. The symposium facilitates engagement and exchange of ideas in sustainability, risk, and communication among several disciplines.
Cunningham analyzed flyers/posters that are being used on campuses to communicate sustainability. She found that from a cognitive science perspective, not all techniques to capturing attention were used or used correctly.
As climate change continues to reshape our environment, it is important to communicate the risks and the adaptive behaviors that may impact communities. College campuses around the United States of America are poised to make positive impacts on the environment by influencing the residents of their communities. Universities use differing communication strategies in order to promote sustainable behavior among their students, faculty, and staff. Sustainable practices can vary from simple recycling to complex lifestyle changes in alternative transportation methods.
Objective: Specifically, this project uses a cognitive science approach to look at the visual communication strategies used by college campuses to promote their sustainable efforts.
Methods: This project is a comparison among seven college campuses that have varying communication strategies in order to promote sustainable behaviors. This researcher sampled (n=56) sustainable poster ads. The components of the posters are analyzed by color, orientation, and size. These varying types of components are preattentive and work subconsciously to inform viewers of visual messages.
Results: This project is in its initial stages of data collection using content analysis, and in future use, an eye tracker. These tools work at the cognitive level to help determine what types of visual messages capture attention of viewers and thus lead to message processing.
This research was sponsored by MSU Sustainability.