Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM


DROST, Robert E., Geocognition Research Laboratory, Michigan State University, Department of Geological Sciences, 206 Natural Science, East Lansing, MI 48824, LIBARKIN, Julie, Geocognition Research Laboratory, 206 Natural Science, East Lansing, MI 48824, THOMAS, Stephen R., Department of Zoology, Michigan State University, 288 Farm Lane, 203 Natural Science Building, East Lansing, MI 48824, CASTEEL, Mark A., Department of Psychology, Penn State York, 1031 Edgecomb Avenue, York, PA 17403 and MEISTER, Matt, KRDO NewsChannel 13, 399 S 8th St, Colorado Springs, CO 80905,

Communicating warnings about impending natural hazards is an important duty of weathercasters working for news organizations. On television, hazard warnings are typically conveyed through live radar, storm chasers, live newscasts, and warning scrolls. The effectiveness of this traditional approach, however, is unclear, especially given the lack of attention some members of the general public pay to these warnings. A study comparing individual responses to a traditional warning, an animated warning, and an audio warning was undertaken to evaluate the impact of warnings on viewer understanding and impressions. A Tobii T60 eye tracker was used to document visual interactions with on-screen warnings. Results indicate that viewers of the animated warning retained more pertinent information about the tornado warning than viewers of the traditional warning, and retention for the traditional warning was equivalent to that of the audio control. In addition, gaze patterns for the traditional warning were much more diffuse than for the animated warning, suggesting that attention was more focused for animation viewers. Viewers also found the traditional warning overloaded with multiple visual elements that tended to run concurrently. These data suggest that traditional warnings do provide sufficient information for people to act upon, although modifications to reduce visual complexity and include animated elements could improve overall efficiency. Future studies will consider the effectiveness of a hybrid warning containing both traditional and animated components.