Designing Risk Communications: Completing and Correcting Mental Models of Hazardous Processes, Part I

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Abstract

Many risk communications are intended to help the lay public make complex decisions about risk. To guide risk communicators with this objective, a mental models approach to the design and characterization of risk communications is proposed. Building on text comprehension and mental models research, this approach offers an integrated set of methods to help the risk communication designer choose and analyze risk communication content, structure, and organization. An applied example shows that two radon brochures designed with this approach present roughly the same expert facts as a radon brochure widely distributed by the U.S. EPA but meet higher standards on other content, structure, and organization criteria.

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