Heather Akin

Heather Akin
University of Nebraska at Lincoln | NU · Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication

PhD

About

34
Publications
11,980
Reads
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473
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 2010 - June 2015
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Position
  • PhD

Publications

Publications (34)
Article
Full-text available
This study examines early-career scientists' cognition, affect, and behaviors before, during, and after a series of science communication training workshops drawing from the Risk Information Seeking and Processing (RISP) and Theory of Planned Behavior theoretical models. We find correlations between engagement (throughout the training), self-report...
Article
Extending the situational crisis communication theory, this research evaluates how the consequences of a crisis extend to social media and how using internal and external sources influence crisis response processing. A structural equation model assessed the conceptual link between organizational reputation and the negative amplification of a messag...
Article
When museums commission green buildings, those buildings are often covered in the press. To understand the educational potential of green building press coverage, we qualitatively analyzed 96 articles about eight U.S. green science museums. We found that journalists who cover green buildings highlight green roofs, material choices, site/landscaping...
Article
Full-text available
Despite scientific consensus, a partisan divide persists among Americans over the existence and causes of climate change. One body of research explains this divide by positing that individuals tend to uphold the expectations of their cultural groups in order to protect their social standing and community’s values. To determine whether such identity...
Article
Public opinion regarding genetic control of infectious disease vectors such as mosquitoes varies in part because the underlying risk and benefit perceptions about novel gene editing and genetic engineering (GE) techniques are multi-faceted. We designed a survey of the US population (N = 1137) to unpack some of those complexities. Of particular inte...
Article
Full-text available
Whether on grounds of perceived safety, aesthetics, or overall quality of life, residents may wish to be aware of nearby energy sites such as nuclear reactors, refineries, and fracking wells. Yet people are not always accurate in their impressions of proximity. Indeed, our data show that only 54% of Americans living within 25 miles of a nuclear sit...
Preprint
Public trust in agricultural biotechnology organizations that produce so-called ‘genetically-modified organisms’ (GMOs) is affected by misinformed attacks on GM technology and worry that producers' concern for profits overrides concern for the public good. In an experiment, we found that reporting that the industry engages in open and transparent r...
Chapter
Full-text available
Article
Full-text available
We present an analysis of how citizens form attitudes about labeling nanotechnology, building on previous work on the socio-cultural dynamics under publics’ perceptions of risks and governance of emerging technologies. We examine whether individuals’ views about labeling nanotechnology products are correlated with their attitudes about genetically...
Article
Full-text available
Public trust in agricultural biotechnology organizations that produce so-called ‘genetically-modified organisms’ (GMOs) is affected by misinformed attacks on GM technology and worry that producers' concern for profits overrides concern for the public good. In an experiment, we found that reporting that the industry engages in open and transparent r...
Article
Previous research suggests that when individuals encounter new information, they interpret it through perceptual ‘filters’ of prior beliefs, relevant social identities, and messenger credibility. In short, evaluations are not based solely on message accuracy, but also on the extent to which the message and messenger are amenable to the values of on...
Article
Increased hydraulic fracturing operations (also known as ‘fracking’) in the U.S. have introduced a larger portion of the public to new and more extensive risks and benefits: from concerns of impacts on water quality and human health to benefits from increased oil and gas production and local economic development. As most policy affecting fracking o...
Article
Full-text available
This study presents a theoretical framework that examines foreign publics’ use of foreign news from domestic media and pre-existing schema to form an image of another nation. To test the proposed theoretical framework, we examined Chinese citizens’ image of the United States using the data from a survey collected from a representative sample of Chi...
Article
Full-text available
This study examines how familiarity with an issue—nanotechnology—moderates the effect of exposure to science information on how people process mediated messages about a complex issue. In an online experiment, we provide a nationally representative sample three definitions of nanotechnology (technical, technical applications, and technical risk/bene...
Chapter
Full-text available
In recent years, increased Internet access and new communication technologies have led to the development of online methods for gathering public opinion and behavioral data related to controversial issues like climate change. To help climate-change researchers better adapt to the new era of online-based research, a review of, and methodological app...
Article
This research offers one of the first analyses of the US public's views about synthetic biology, based on nationally representative survey data. We provide in-depth, multiyear descriptive results of public attitudes toward this issue and compare them with individuals’ attitudes toward other issues. Our data indicate that the public does not general...
Chapter
This synthesis chapter summarizes the central themes from the essays in Part VI of the handbook. The uniting refrain of this section is the important role of the audience, and specifically how audience choices, attention, biases, and heuristics affect interpretation of complex scientific topics. We first summarize what we term “phenomena of selecti...
Chapter
This chapter synthesizes the central findings generated by the field of science communication, including those that establish that higher levels of public knowledge will not necessarily increase public support for and interest in science. It describes how beliefs about science are entangled in our social and political environment, shaped by mass me...
Chapter
This synthesis chapter recaps the key themes found in Part III of the handbook, which presents several case studies of singular instances of science communication about contentious (or potentially contentious) topics. While the cases are diverse, there are several recurring themes that are summarized in this synthesis. One theme is that public resp...
Article
Full-text available
Of all the online information tools that the public relies on to collect information and share opinions about scientific and environmental issues, Twitter presents a unique venue to assess the spontaneous and genuine opinions of networked publics, including those about a focusing event like the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident following the 2011...
Research
Full-text available
Paper accepted for presentation at the 38th annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
Article
Controversy in science news accounts attracts audiences and draws attention to important science issues. But sometimes covering multiple sides of a science issue does the audience a disservice. Counterbalancing a truth claim backed by strong scientific support with a poorly backed argument can unnecessarily heighten audience perceptions of uncertai...
Article
Full-text available
Due to changes in the media landscape, the vast majority of the public now depends on a mix of media formats for science news. This study analyzes audiences’ repertoires of science media consumption, and the effect of these consumption patterns on public understanding of science. We also profile those who rely on a mix of online-only sources and tr...
Article
Full-text available
Improving tourism is one means Extension professionals and other community stakeholders can use to build rural economic resiliency. The research reported in this article evaluates what motivates tourists to visit and how they perceive of Wisconsin's Kickapoo Valley as a destination. Data are drawn from surveys collected from out-of-town visitors. R...
Article
Full-text available
Volunteers are important contributors to Extension conservation efforts. Volunteer water monitoring is one solution for involving people so they become educated about local ecosystems and acquire data used to detect ecological threats. The study reported here measured relationships among Wisconsin's Stream-Monitoring Program's volunteers' motivatio...
Article
Full-text available
This study tests the proposition that hostile interpretations of media content can be reduced through news media literacy training. Within the context of the controversy over the adoption of biofuels as an energy source, we employ a web-based experimental design that manipulates subjects’ exposure to media literacy training and then presents them w...
Article
Full-text available
One recent and conspicuous change in the U.S. media landscape has been the shift toward more markedly partisan news content. At the same time, data suggest that the media audience has become more polarized across a wide array of controversial and politicized issues. Recruiting from a group of highly polarized opponents of childhood vaccinations, th...

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