Author: Barbara Saracino – University of Bologna, Italy


  • Gustav Bohlin – Vetenskap & Allmänhet, Sweden
  • Massiminao Bucchi – Università di Trento, Italy
  • Ricarda Ziegler – Wissenschaft im Dialog, Germany

The novel coronavirus pandemic challenged all aspects of societal life in spring 2020. Research resources and communication efforts were mobilised worldwide in order to help reducing the harmful effects of the disease. In this global emergency, policymakers and authorities but also common citizens were faced with making daily decisions based on a growing, but limited evidence base.

When the need for correct and up-to-date information is acute, communication has a crucial role. But in times when information channels abound with a variety of – often conflicting – advice, the question of whom to trust becomes central.

Against this background, several public attitudes surveys were conducted in different national settings to explore questions such as: Which sources does the general public use to get information about the virus and the disease? What confidence do they have in various types of spokespeople? What are their perceptions of scientists speaking up about corona?

In this paper, we will present and compare public perceptions on the communication of the covid-19 pandemic from Germany, Italy and Sweden. The insights are based on public attitudes surveys conducted during the outbreak of the pandemic. The topics covered include information sources as well as the view on scientists and spokespeople.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Transformation

Author: Barbara Saracino – University of Naples Federico II, Italy

Massimiano Bucchi – Università di Trento

Since its very beginning, modern science has put images at the center of its communicative processes: drawings, diagrams, schemes and later photographs, satellite images, film. In the age of digital communication, specialists and publics live constantly immersed in a visually dense environment, particularly when it comes to science and technology content. Do we have the competence to decipher all these images, often complex and elaborate? If the so-called “science literacy” has become a standard dimension of public understanding of science at the international level, much less studied so far is visual science literacy. We tested empirical indicators of visual science literacy in the context of four surveys (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) of public perception in Italy on a representative sample of the population. The results show that respondents fare generally better in recognizing images related to science than in responding to textual questions. Images could offer relevant opportunities for greater public engagement with scientific results.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Building a theoretical basis for science communication