Belief perseverance: persistence of one’s initial conceptions when the basis for one’s belief is discredited but an explanation of why the belief might be true survives (Myers, 2016).

Cultural Cognition: The influence of group values that often dominates a person’s assessment of beliefs, risks and empirical evidence (adapted from Kahan, 2010, p. 296).

EPPM Model of Fear Appeals: A model of message processing that suggests that fear appeals are processed first for their likelihood and then (if the threat is considered likely) for their impact. If people consider that they cannot do anything to control that threat then they use a defensive response to deny the threat (fear control), however if people consider that they can effectively control the threat then they are likely to take action on this risk itself (danger control).

Framing: Deliberately choosing and highlighting certain aspects of issues or events (and therefore downplaying other aspects) to persuade a message recipient to adopt a particular attitude or behaviour (adapted from Entman, 2004, p. 5).

Heuristics: Cognitive rules or ‘shortcuts’ that people use to reduce complex decisions into simpler ones using the peripheral route according to the Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion (adapted from Vaughan & Hogg, 2014, pp. 65 & 187-189).

Motivated reasoning: The process of assessing evidence and logic to merely ensure it suits existing confirmation biases and world views, and to avoid cognitive dissonance, rather than on its objective merits (see Kunda, 1990).

Persuasion: A process in which communicators try to convince people to choose to change their attitudes, beliefs or behaviours by using communication techniques (adapted from Perloff, 2014, p. 17).

Preattentive processing: The ability of the human brain to determine differences in things like colours, shapes and proximity before conscious attention has been engaged – usually within 250 milliseconds (see Treisman, 1985).

Pseudoscience: Information that may appear to be based on science and may use the language of science, but in fact has not been subjected to appropriate rigour, often relying on faith instead of objective observation of evidence, and lacking independent analysis and repeatable, falsifiable hypotheses and conclusions (see Cherry, 2016).

Salience: The degree to which information stands out from other information and is retained by a message recipient (see Vaughan and Hogg, 2014, pp. 56-57, Wyer and Srull, 2014, pp. 154-158).

Worldview: A set of beliefs and assumptions that describe a person’s reality and the nature of how the world works, particularly the behaviours and motivations of humans and organisations. It can have powerful effects on cognition and behaviours (adapted from Koltko-Rivera, 2004).


  • Cherry, K. (2016). How to Identify a Pseudoscience. [online] Verywell. Available at: [Accessed 25 Feb. 2017].
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