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How information is communicated influences the public’s environmental perceptions and behaviors. Information channels and sources both play an important role in the dissemination of information. Trust in a source is often used as a proxy for whether a particular piece of information is credible. To determine preferences for information channels and trust in various sources for information on nature-related topics, a mail-out survey was sent to randomly selected U.S. addresses (n = 1,030). Diverse groups of people may have differing communication preferences. Therefore, we explored differences in channel preferences and trust by demographics using regression models. Overall, the most preferred channels were personal experience, reading online content, and watching visual media online. The most trusted sources were science organizations, universities, and friends/family. Channel preferences varied the most by education level and age, while source trust was most influenced by education, race, age, and size of current residence (rural-urban). The influence of demographics varied depending on the individual channel and source, with some groups preferring certain channels or sources but not others. Results are useful to consider when disseminating information on nature-related topics to a general public audience. More broadly, results also suggest spreading information using different channels and sources depending on the specific audience being targeted.
Wilkins EJ, Miller HM, Tilak E, Schuster RM (2018) communicating information on nature-related topics: Preferred information channels and trust in sources. PLoS ONE 13(12): e0209013. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0209013