Thursday, June 6, 2019

Scientists Who Selfie







A new study done by Louisiana State University challenges the stereotypical view of scientists on social media. In an online Instagram survey, a team of researchers led by Paige Jarreau and Becky Carmichael asked 1620 participants to rate their feelings based on selfies posted by scientists. It was then found that posting selfies allows the public to view scientists as being warmer and more trustworthy, compared to situations where scientists only post about their work.
The ‘Stereotype Content Model’ was used as a framework to study the public perception of scientists on social media. This model explains warmth as the perception of one’s intentions and competence as one’s confidence in acting upon those intentions. Therefore, warmth can be described as friendliness, modesty, and sincerity while competence is defined by intelligence, creativity and persistence. 



Although both warmth and competence play a role in what we know as trust, warmth tends to be more valued in the public view. This was evident in the study’s results which showed that posting selfies allows scientists to gain more trust from their audience by being viewed as warmer, and not any less competent.

After all, trust is extremely significant for scientific communications on important topics such as climate change and public health. The findings of this study present a way for scientists to become closer to society, which in turn can enhance public knowledge of research going on in various fields of STEM. Additionally, it allows the public to feel more understood by the scientific community. 


Read the full article by PLOS One here:
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0216625

Image Credit: PLOS One, Experiment
Title Image Credit: COSMOS Magazine

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