Jargon as a barrier to effective science communication: Evidence from metacognition

Public Underst Sci. 2019 Oct;28(7):845-853. doi: 10.1177/0963662519865687. Epub 2019 Jul 28.


In this experiment (N = 650), we examine the negative consequences of jargon on individuals' perceptions of emerging scientific technology and aim to explain these effects. We find that the presence of jargon impairs people's ability to process scientific information, and that this impairment leads to greater motivated resistance to persuasion, increased risk perceptions, and lower support for technology adoption. These findings suggest that the use of jargon undermines efforts to inform and persuade the public through the cognitive mechanism of metacognition.

Keywords: metacognition; persuasion; processing fluency; science communication.