When Thunder Roars: A Quantitative Assessment of Argument Strength, Risk Efficacy, and Cognitive Elaboration in Severe Weather Threat Messaging. (140)

Robert MacDonald, University of Oklahoma / Oklahoma Mesonet, Norman, OK

Ioana Cionea, University of Oklahoma



In recent years, the importance of effectively communicating weather threats has grown substantially in both the meteorological and social science communities. This survey study focuses on two common National Weather Service (NWS) threat messaging campaigns &lsquoTurn Around Don't Drown' and &lsquoWhen Thunder Roars Go Indoors' and subsequently tests key features associated with effective communication.

Multiple pre-established communication research scales and associated analysis methods were adapted specifically for gauging risk efficacy and cognitive elaboration of individuals after being exposed to multiple types of NWS threat awareness graphics. Survey participants were randomly presented with two specific NWS hazard messaging graphics and were subsequently asked to answer numerous questions regarding graphic and message content. Questions were divided into sets to assess three major components risk perception and risk efficacy, argument strength of the graphic itself and message content, and cognitive elaboration of the participant after being shown the message. Additionally, survey participants were asked open-ended response questions in order to provide participants the ability to freely elaborate their perceptions of the message and threat.

Following data collection, each respective measure analysis technique was applied in order to quantitatively assess the effective communication variables measured by each scale. Furthermore, open-ended responses were analyzed to determine more information regarding participant perception on the information, persuasiveness, and graphic design characteristics of each message in order to give a cohesive, in-depth look at common NWS weather messages from an argumentation communication perspective.