Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Monday 20 September 2010

How sexy are forests?

Psychology is at work when we are confronted with words. Words have not only their literal or dictionary meaning, they also have strong associative connotations. A word invokes feelings, images, memories and values. People in the disciplines of journalism or advertizing know how much words matter. Choose the wrong words in your headline or tagline and no one will read your article or buy your product. To illustrate how this works for the word forest, I did a little experiment with forest experts, CEC members and people for whom forest conservation is not of immediate concern. All were asked their first associations with the word ‘forest’. In the matrix I summarize the associations and clustered them into the domains of head, heart, guts and loins.
The associations of most forest experts were in the domain of the brain. Some really tried to be ‘without a mistake’ in their answer, e.g. “Forest is a land which is dominantly covered by trees of different dimensions, in association with grasses, herbaceous plant, lianas and other flora such as epiphytes.” Only a few forest experts had some associations in the domain of the heart, one in the domain of the guts. The answers of CEC members were spread over the domains of brain, heart and guts. The great majority of the associations of the non experts were only in the lower three domains. This is where scientists need professional communicators when addressing non-experts: with style, storytelling, messaging, and tone of voice that appeals to the audience they want to reach. An article on this experiment will be published in Arbor Vitae.

No comments: