How Aesthetic Style Can Influence Reception of Visual Communications of Climate Change

  • Rebecca GreenEmail author
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


Public apathy on the issue of anthropogenic climate change is widespread, with more than half of surveyed Australians in denial that it is happening, and only 46% of Britons agreeing that humans are contributing significantly to the phenomenon. Successful communication of this complex issue is key to engagement, and much existing communication theory focuses on framing, rhetoric, fear and other high level strategies that can lead towards this aim. However, there is little understanding of how these messages and strategies are subsequently translated into designed visual communications (visual artefacts) for public consumption. This paper approaches these strategies and theories from a graphic design perspective, focussing on how the aesthetic style of visual artefacts—designed in line with these strategies—can influence their reception. The phenomenological research in this paper is taken from a larger study into the relationships between three selected real-world anthropogenic climate change visual artefacts, their production by graphic designers, and their reception by a set of viewers. A particular focus is the viewers’ interpretations of the “authority” behind each of the three visual artefacts, and how aesthetic style can influence this interpretation and consequently the trust and subscription to the message itself. This research makes a key contribution to climate change communication across fields such as science communication, sociology and graphic design.


Climate change communication Aesthetic style Visual Framing Graphic design Semiotics Professional code 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UNSW Art & DesignPaddington, SydneyAustralia

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