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Transcending Mental Models

Brian Southwell, Senior Director of Science in the Public Sphere at the Research Triangle Institute, delivers a two-part workshop series on translating research for audiences beyond the university. In particular, Southwell focuses on understanding how social and political opinions are formed and reformed. Audiences are not blank slates, but bring their own mental models - thoughts, ideas, opinions, experiences - to the conversation.

By the end of this workshop series, participants will be able to:

  1. Explain how people form social and political opinions, and the implications of these mental models on knowledge mobilization

  2. Identify potential partnerships with media professionals

  3. Identify and address misinformation or misperceptions about their research

Proceed to the first video to get started.

Brian Southwell is the senior director of the Science in the Public Sphere program at Research Triangle Institute, a U.S.-based nonprofit research institute that advances social progress. Southwell is a Duke/RTI scholar at Duke University Medical School and Adjunct Professor at Duke’s Social Science Research Institute as well as an Adjunct Associate Professor in Media and Journalism and Health Behavior at University of North Carolina. Southwell’s award-winning research and theoretical contributions appear in more than 100 journal articles and chapters. In 2013, he published the book Social Networks and Popular Understanding of Science and Health. He has served as senior editor for Health Communication and as a member of numerous other editorial boards, including Communication Research and Public Opinion Quarterly. He also published the book Innovations in Home Energy Use: A Sourcebook for Behavior Change in 2016. Southwell’s latest book, Misinformation and Mass Audiences, which he coedited, appeared in January 2018. He is regarded as one of the world’s leading scholars in public opinion and messaging to induce behavior change.