Analysis of Meteorologists as Public Communicators: A Multiple Regression of Engagement Predictors

Anthony Dudo*, Jacob Copple*, Jiemin Looi, Won-ki Moon, Nichole Bennett, John Besley, Todd Newman, Nicole Leavey, Chris Volpe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference posterpeer-review


Scientists are increasingly being asked to communicate with external stakeholders, among them citizens, policy-makers, and journalists. Meteorologists occupy a unique communication space because they have capacity to communicate about an increasingly urgent and highly-polarized issue: climate change. This paper analyzes data from a survey conducted of U.S.-based meteorologists to identify key predictors of their willingness to communicate directly with non-subject matter experts. The analysis was guided by insights from the theory of planned behavior (TPB) and extant science communication research. A survey was administered in fall 2018 to members of a large U.S.-based professional society for meteorologists. A total of 589 members completed the survey. To identify predictors of willingness to engage in direct science communication, this study constructed and tested a hierarchical ordinary least-square regression model that explained 39% of the variance in the dependent variable. The first model consisted of control variables: age, gender, status, and past behavior. Past communication behaviors were positively related to willingness to participate in future communication activities (β = 0.24, p < .000), as were more junior scientists (β = -0.17, p < .01). The second model included specific TPB variables that focus on internal and external efficacy, attitudes related to public communication, and social norms. Greater willingness to communicate was positively associated with internal efficacy (β = 0.41, p < .000), external efficacy (β = 0.16, p < .000), and positive attitude (β = 0.28, p < .000). The third and final model contained measures of past communication training and goals related to public communication. None of the additional variables demonstrated significance although the overall model was still significant (F(18,570) = 21.89, p < .000, R2= .39). This study provides insight about what factors are associated with meteorologists becoming more likely to communicate with the public about their research. Findings suggest that meteorologists may be driven toward public engagement due, in part, to their past communication behavior, communication efficacy, attitudes towards communicating, and professional status. These findings amplify previous research on scientists’ communication behaviors and can help guide on-going initiatives to empower meteorologists to engage with public audiences.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2020
EventAmerican Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Conference, AAAS 2020 - Seattle, United States
Duration: 13 Feb 202016 Feb 2020


ConferenceAmerican Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Conference, AAAS 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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