Since its very beginning, modern science has put images at the center of its communicative processes: drawings, diagrams, and schemes, and later photographs, satellite images, and 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 three surveys (2014, 2015, and 2016) 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.
Read the full article here: Visual Science Literacy: Images and Public Understanding of Science in the Digital Age, “Science Communication”, vol. 38, 812-819.