Sharon Dunwoody

Sharon Dunwoody
University of Wisconsin–Madison | UW · School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Ph.D. in mass communication

About

148
Publications
54,984
Reads
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6,352
Citations
Citations since 2017
8 Research Items
2759 Citations
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Introduction
Sharon Dunwoody, now retired from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has spent her career teaching science and environmental writing and conducting research on media coverage of science. She continues to write about science, environment and health journalism in the United States.
Additional affiliations
August 1981 - May 2013
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Position
  • Professor, Director, Associate Dean of the Graduate School
Education
September 1974 - May 1978
Indiana University Bloomington
Field of study
  • Mass communication
September 1971 - December 1974
Temple University
Field of study
  • Journalism and Mass communication
September 1965 - May 1969
Indiana University Bloomington
Field of study
  • Journalism

Publications

Publications (148)
Article
Full-text available
Novel risks generate copious amounts of uncertainty, which in turn can confuse and mislead publics. This commentary explores those issues through the lens of information seeking and processing, with a focus on social media and the potential effectiveness of science journalism.
Article
Studies of science, environment, and health journalism, although detectable throughout the history of journalism scholarship, experienced vigorous growth in the latter half of the twentieth century, growth that continues to accelerate into the twenty‐first century. The corpus is global, and its upward trajectory is aided and abetted by a growing nu...
Conference Paper
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The paper summarizes the four contributions to a panel on scientific uncertainty in the mass media, looking on how the media deal with uncertainty, what it means for the audience, and how to improve media coverage of scientific uncertainty.
Article
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This study examines the conceptual linkages between individuals’ uncertainty judgments and affective reactions (worry and anger) within the context of an environmental health risk. It uses data from a longitudinal study of people’s reactions to the risks of eating contaminated fish from the Great Lakes that employed the risk information seeking and...
Article
Research indicates that balanced news coverage of opposing scientific claims can result in heightened uncertainty among audiences about what is true. In this study, we test the ability of a weight-of-experts statement to enhance individuals’ ability to distinguish between more versus less valid claims. An experiment found that the weight-of-experts...
Article
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This online experiment explored how contextual information embedded in new media channels such as YouTube may serve as normative social cues to users. Specifically, we examined whether the number of views listed under a YouTube video about climate change would elicit inferences regarding how " others " feel about the climate issue and, consequently...
Article
This introduction sets the stage for the special issue on the public communication of scientific uncertainty that follows by sketching the wider landscape of issues related to the communication of uncertainty and showing how the individual contributions fit into that landscape. The first part of the introduction discusses the creation of media cont...
Article
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How do neuroscientists “make sense” of public visibility in the context of their scientific work? Hierarchical cluster analysis and multidimensional scaling analyses of 24 in-depth interviews with U.S. neuroscientists produced word groups and concept maps related to possible “medialization” processes. Findings suggest that scientists are factoring...
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...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The relationship between uncertainty and emotional reactions to risk has been explored in only a cursory fashion to date. This study seeks to remedy that by examining linkages between uncertainty judgment and such affective reactions as worry and anger within the context of an environmental health risk. It uses data from a longitudinal study of peo...
Article
Full-text available
Statistical reasoning is not the same as doing calculations. Instead, it involves cognitive skills such as the ability to think critically and systematically with data, skills important for everyday news work and essential for the era of data journalism. Twin surveys of the chairs of undergraduate journalism programs in the United States, conducted...
Article
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As scientists continue to embrace the Internet as both producers and consumers of information, the lines between journalism, blogging and public relations become increasingly blurred. Will this trend usurp traditional media's role in science reporting, or provide new contexts and interactions that enhance it?
Article
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This study investigates how prime-time television news portrayed attributions of responsibility for climate change policy issues in the United States, China, and Canada. In analyzing news coverage of the 2009 climate change summit in Copenhagen, we distinguish between causal and treatment responsibility. Additionally, we develop frames to test Ceru...
Article
Full-text available
This study investigates how prime-time television news portrayed attributions of responsibility for climate change policy issues in the United States, China, and Canada. In analyzing news coverage of the 2009 climate change summit in Copenhagen, we distinguish between causal and treatment responsibility. Additionally, we develop frames to test Ceru...
Article
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Climate change is a phenomenon with global causes but local effects, and thus global climate change decision-making moments provide ideal opportunities to examine how local and global discourses work together—or do not—through global journalism. This case study investigates the globally focused vs. culturally bound frames used in television news co...
Chapter
Full-text available
See also: https://books.google.de/books?id=QsLJBAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Neue+Governance+der+Wissenschaft:+Reorganisation+-+externe+Anforderungen+%E2%80%93+Medialisierung&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiU6_r4yMbcAhWBDewKHTsACcwQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q=Neue%20Governance%20der%20Wissenschaft%3A%20Reorganisation%20-%20externe%20Anforderungen%20%E2%80%93%20M...
Article
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Surveys of journalism department heads in 1997 and 2008 showed general support for the need for journalism students to reason with statistical information. Stronger support was associated, in particular, with the perception that this cognitive skill would give students an advantage in the journalism job market. However, many chairs also perceived c...
Article
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Because the neurosciences affect many areas of society and culture, they receive much public attention. Brain research and other focuses of neuroscience are regularly featured in the mass media, calling on neuroscientists to serve as sources. Based on 30 semi-structured interviews with neuroscientists in the United States and Germany, this article...
Article
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The transformation of today’s mass media system leads to uncertainty about communication behaviors concerning scientific issues. So far, few researchers have investigated this issue among scientists. We conducted a survey of neuroscientists in Germany and the United States in which we asked them about their own information-seeking behaviors and the...
Conference Paper
Among other factors, beliefs about the public, about the relationship between science and the public, and about communication effects are likely to influence how scientists communicate with the public. Scientists, for example, may apply an information dissemination perspective or look for interaction and dialog, they may adopt a paternalistic attit...
Article
Full-text available
We are writing to urge AAAS to reconsider its policy against mandated labeling of so-called genetically modified (GM) foods ([ 1 ][1]). We do not, as a group, have any position on GM foods, for or against, but we are concerned that AAAS's position represents a poorly informed approach to
Chapter
Full-text available
In an effort to better understand the ways in which risk messages can indirectly affect risk-related behaviors, this review explores the links between such messages and information seeking and processing. The narrative first offers a brief look at the literature that shores up salient concepts, and then moves to a model of risk information seeking...
Article
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The science writing community in the United States increasingly privileges formal science training as part of a science journalist’s ‘tool kit.’ This article asks if existing research supports the argument that such formal training offers attributes critical to a science writer’s work and finds that the answer is no. In studies of journalists gener...
Article
Because the neurosciences affect many areas of society and culture, they receive much public attention. Brain research and other focuses of neuroscience are regularly featured in the mass media, calling on neuroscientists to serve as sources. Based on 30 semi-structured interviews with neuroscientists in the United States and Germany, this article...
Chapter
Full-text available
Available online at: http://www.pcst2012.org/images/PCST2012_Book_of_Papers.pdf
Chapter
See also: https://books.google.de/books?id=zxV173kHaIgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=%C3%96ffentliche+Wissenschaft+und+Neue+Medien.+Die+Rolle+der+Web+2.0-Kultur+in+der+Wissenschaftsvermittlung.&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj_04yWycbcAhVH26QKHXEuDWAQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q=%C3%96ffentliche%20Wissenschaft%20und%20Neue%20Medien.%20Die%20Rolle%20der%20Web%202.0-Kultur...
Article
One of the most important skills a student needs to develop during their graduate days is the skill of communicating their scientific work with a wide array of audiences. That facility will serve them across audiences, from scientific peers to students to neighbors and the general public. Increasingly, graduate students express a need for training...
Conference Paper
Reporting on issues that transcend national borders is acted upon by two countervailing forces – a force pushing a global journalism framework, endowed with a global outlook, and one that pushes a domestic point of view that puts the nation-state at the center of frames of social reality (Berglez, 2008). This perspective on coverage is useful for s...
Conference Paper
This study investigates how prime-time television news portrayed attributions of responsibility for climate change policy issues in the United States, China and Canada. In analyzing news coverage of the 2009 climate change summit in Copenhagen, we distinguish between causal and treatment responsibility. Additionally, we develop frames to test Cerut...
Article
Full-text available
Mediated messages can influence awareness and nascent perceptions of novel or new issues. Nanotechnology is one such issue. This study explores descriptive and thematic characteristics of journalistic coverage of nanotechnology over a twenty-year span using computer-aided content analysis, finding an emphasis on research throughout the period with...
Article
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We present results from a course, “Informal Science Education for Scientists: A Practicum,” co-taught to graduate students in STEM-related fields by a scientist/engineer and a social scientist/humanist. This course provides a structured framework and experiential learning about informal science education during a semester-long experience. The data...
Article
Little is known about how the media cover the social sciences. Some basic questions about social science coverage in particular, are answered in this article. Empirical examinations of media coverage of social science are, according to the author, non-existent. Case studies and commentary on media coverage of social sciences were alternatively stud...
Article
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This study investigates scientists as public communicators, with a particular focus on factors that influence scientists' interactions with the mass media. Based on a U.S. survey of scientists, the results show that some of the patterns characterizing these interactions have remained remarkably stable over the course of at least three decades. Scie...
Article
A motivational perspective on media use habits is used to examine the effects of cable television on use of other media. Evidence from the Columbus, Ohio, Qube market suggests that cable both replaces and supplements preexisting media habits.
Article
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This article was submitted without an abstract, please refer to the full-text PDF file.
Article
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This article was submitted without an abstract, please refer to the full-text PDF file.
Article
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Having effective interactions with public audiences about science and engineering topics is challenging. Many training workshops, boot camps, and courses have tried to address this by training professional scientists and engineers using a variety of strategies; unfortunately, the literature on the effectiveness of these approaches is sparse. We pre...
Article
An international mail survey of 1,354 biomedical researchers in five countries has revealed that interaction with the media is widespread among this group and that this interaction is largely perceived in a positive light. Possible reasons are offered as to why the perception persists that the scientist-journalist relationship remains troubled, des...
Article
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A survey reveals that media contacts of scientists in top R&D countries are more frequent and smooth than was previously thought.
Article
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In an effort to understand what motivates people to attend to information about flood risks, this study applies the Risk Information Seeking and Processing model to explore how local residents responded to damaging river flooding in the Milwaukee area. The results indicate that anger at managing agencies was associated with the desire for informati...
Article
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A comparison between two recent national surveys among nanoscientists and the general public in the US shows that, in general, nanoscientists are more optimistic than the public about the potential benefits of nanotechnology. However, for some issues related to the environmental and long-term health impacts of nanotechnology, nanoscientists were si...
Article
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How do laypeople perceive uncertainties about environmental health risks? How do risk-related cognitions and emotions influence these uncertainties, and what roles do sociodemographic and contextual factors, risk judgments, and informa-tion exposures play? This study explores these questions using secondary analy-ses of survey data. Results suggest...
Article
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Attempts to model risk response tend to focus on risks that pose a direct personal threat. This study examined the applicability of one risk response model to impersonal risks—risks that threaten something other than the self, in this case, the environment. This study utilized a section of the Griffin et al. risk-information seeking and processing...
Article
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Graduate students will spend their careers communicating about science and technology and interacting with a variety of audiences, from undergraduates to their scientific peers to their neighbors. Increasingly, these students express a need for training in skills needed to manage those diverse communicative environments. In response to that need an...
Conference Paper
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Core variables and propositions from a model originally designed to describe information seeking and processing about risks are applied to energy issues. Results indicate that perceived social pressures to learn about energy information, information sufficiency motivation, individuals’ perceived processing abilities, and their beliefs about availab...
Article
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In 1993, the parasite cryptosporidium infested the Milwaukee-area drinking supply and sickened some 400,000 people. This study uses survey data gathered from 610 residents in the wake of that outbreak to look at predictors of the complexity of people’s understanding of two causal components of the outbreak: (1) how the parasite got into the water a...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Two survey data sets test a model of Risk Information Seeking and Processing, informed by Eagly and Chaiken’s (1993) Heuristic-Systematic model, that describes characteristics of individuals that predispose them to seek and process information about health and environmental risks in different ways. Results indicate that information insufficiency re...
Article
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In an effort to better understand individuals' use of information in risky situations, in this article we propose a new variable, information sufficiency, as an important component of people's information-seeking behaviors. We surveyed residents of 2 Great Lakes cities to test the ability of a group of factors often employed in risk communication s...
Article
Using a model of risk information seeking and processing developed by Griffin, Dunwoody, and Neuwirth (1999), this study looks at predictors of the processing strategies that people apply to health risk information. Specifically, this article focuses on one relationship within the model--the relationship between perceived amount of information need...
Article
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This study draws a nexus between heuristic-systematic information processing and the theory of planned behavior through a model of risk information seeking and processing. The model proposes that the form of information processing individuals apply to risk information from the media and other sources affects beliefs, evaluations, and attitudes cons...
Article
In the spring of 1993, nearly 40 percent of Milwaukee-area residents experienced a nationally publicized outbreak of cryptosporidium, a parasite that infested the metropolitan drinking water supply. Using open-ended survey data gathered from 610 adult residents in the wake of that outbreak, this study looks at factors related to the ways in which p...
Article
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The purpose of this study was to explore the utility of protection motivation theory (PMT) in the context of mass media reports about a hazard. Content elements of a hazard's severity, likelihood of occurring, and the effectiveness of preventive actions were systematically varied in a news story about a fabricated risk: exposure to fluorescent ligh...
Article
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Recent studies suggest that Web delivery may produce less, learning than traditional print. Left unanswered are questions of the process through which differences are produced Using 2 theories-user control and structural isomorphism-we proposed 2 mediators of the influence of medium on learning. Path analysis of experimental data varying medium whi...
Chapter
Behavioral decision theory draws on experimental research in cognitive psychology to provide a descriptively accurate model of human behavior. It shows that people systematically violate the normative assumptions of economic rationality by miscalculating probabilities and making choices based on one-economic criteria. Behavioral decision theory's a...
Article
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This study examines the role of interactivity in the presentation of science news on the World Wide Web. The authors propose and test a model of interactive information processing that suggests a relationship between interactivity, cognitive elaboration, and learning. A think-aloud method was employed to provide insight into study participants' men...
Article
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Science Web sites proliferate, offering users a virtual avalanche of information that ranges widely across topic, message style, and quality of evidence. Users, too, are proliferating. But what kind of people visit these sites, how do they maneuver through the site once they arrive, and do they learn anything about science as a result of their visi...
Article
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User control theory predicts that providing freedom in learning increases learning compared to traditional instruction, implying that the Web is more effective for learning than print. Theorists have also argued that navigation through Web sites mimics the associative nature of human memory and information processing—structural isomorphism—suggesti...
Article
This article situates the technological and historical origins of the World Wide Web in hypermedia systems that were conceptualized during the World War II era and first developed decades before the Web. The article then reviews the cross-disciplinary literature on hypermedia, which has developed over the past decade or so in education and educatio...
Article
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Some theorists argue that the node-link design of the Web mimics human information storage and that Web use encourages individuals to process information efficiently and effectively, potentially increasing meaningful learning. However, critics claim that Web navigation increases cognitive load and often produces disorientation. This reduces the pro...
Article
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More and more communities are becoming concerned about health risks posed by lead and other health hazards in their drinking water. Our study, applying the model of innovation diffusion to the adoption of preventive health behaviors, found that reliance on health professionals for information about lead in tap water was associated with residents pe...