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Geoscience Communication An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-2019-24
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-2019-24
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 21 Nov 2019

Submitted as: research article | 21 Nov 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Geoscience Communication (GC).

The human side of geoscientists: comparing geoscientists' and non-geoscientists' cognitive and affective responses to geology

Anthea Lacchia1, Geertje Schuitema1,2, and Fergus McAuliffe1 Anthea Lacchia et al.
  • 1University College Dublin, iCRAG, Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences, UCD School of Earth Sciences, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2UCD (University College Dublin) School of Business, Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland

Abstract. Geoscientists and non-geoscientists often struggle to communicate with each other. In this paper we aim to understand how geoscientists and non-geoscientists perceive geological concepts and processes, that is, how they think (cognitive responses) and feel (affective responses) about them. To this effect, using a mixed-methods approach, we compare mental models – people's representation of a phenomenon – of the subsurface, mining/quarrying, drilling, and flooding between geoscientists (n = 24) and non-geoscientists (n = 38). We identify four dominant themes which underlie their mental models: (1) degree of knowledge and familiarity, (2) beliefs about human interactions, (3) affective beliefs, and (4) beliefs about perceived impact of the processes. While the mental models of non-geoscientists focus more on the perceived negative environmental and economic impacts of geoscience, those of geoscientists focus more on human interactions. We argue that mental models are the result of beliefs, including both cognitive and affective components, and that both need to be acknowledged for effective dialogue between the two groups to take place.

Anthea Lacchia et al.
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Short summary
Geoscientists can struggle to communicate with non-geoscientists, especially around contentious geoscience issues. We compare the thoughts and feelings of geoscientists and non-geoscientists around the subsurface, mining/quarrying, drilling and flooding. We find that geoscientists focus more on human interactions when thinking about these processes, while non-geoscientists focus more on economic and environmental impacts. Understanding these differences and similarities can help enable dialogue.
Geoscientists can struggle to communicate with non-geoscientists, especially around contentious...
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