How to effectively communicate risks to diverse consumers
D. Petrova, R. Garcia-Retamero
Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center, University of Granada, 36-38 Calle Real de Cartuja, Granada, 18071, Spain
The article outlines how to efficiently communicate risks described in numerical values to consumers. The issue is vital and its relevance is related to communication that applies numeric values is an essential part of informing consumers about hazards and advantages of food products; however, a lot of consumers have difficulty perceiving digital information about risks due to various reasons. Consequently, such people assess risks inadequately and can't make well justified decisions based on quantitative information. The authors explain that to remove numerical information and to replace it with verbal description is not advisable as it doesn't allow to solve an issue of efficient risk communication. They also give examples that illustrate how wrong communication tactics can lead to risks aggravation or underestimation. The authors apply certain propositions to prove efficiency of tested risk communication formats, such as standard categories, visual aids, conventional symbols, etc. It was detected that visual aids, or graphic images of information on risks, can eliminate a lot of problems and result in much better understanding of risks and decisions among diverse people. Such means are quite efficient when it comes to people with limited abilities related to perception of linguistic and numerical information, elderly people, highly educated people and population in general. The authors also give some positive examples on how information was adapted for diverse consumers. They come to a conclusion that well-thought-out and transparent risk communication formats that incorporate natural cognitive strategies can make risk communications much easier. Better understanding, in its turn, often leads to conscious decision making by consumers and health-oriented decisions, intentions, and behavior.
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