storm ahead

How to Weather Bias in Communications

In a recent TEDxUGA talk,  meteorologist J. Marshall Shepherd shares insights on confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance that has powerful applications for professional communicators. Using weather and climate change, Dr. Shepherd delves into bias and how it shapes our perceptions. Dr. Shepherd notes that “we all struggle to perceive something outside of our experience level.” As such, we seek to confirm what we already believe.

Understanding cognitive dissonance – the conflict when new information contradicts beliefs or assumptions – and cognitive bias can be extremely useful in shaping your communication programs. What does your audience believe or assume? How will the information you present challenge those beliefs? Thinking through these issues beforehand can help you shape your messaging as well as anticipate resistance.

Dr. Shepherd's prescription for overcoming confirmation bias is knowledge. As communicators we need to recognize our own biases and those of our audience. This can help us to overcome misinformation and disconnect with facts.

Check out the talk below and let us know your thoughts. How do you overcome the impact of bias? Share your tips or questions in the comments below or on social media using #solopr.


Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash