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Understanding stress and health through the use of visual metaphor.

Wezyk, A., 2021. Understanding stress and health through the use of visual metaphor. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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WEZYK, Agata Barbara_Ph.D._2020.pdf
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Psychological stress has become a topical issue, however, research on public understanding of stress is scarce. Metaphors are useful in translating science to the public. This research programme aimed to (1) explore lay and scientific understanding of stress, (2) identify the possible discrepancies between these perspectives, (3) develop a set of visual metaphors to help reduce those discrepancies, and (4) evaluate the metaphors. Three related studies were conducted using a mixed-methods approach. Study 1 involved individual interviews with the lay public (N=26) and stress experts (N=7) to explore their understanding of stress. Thematic analysis showed three main differences between the two perspectives. Lay people were less aware of the direct path between stress and health, emphasised individual responsibility for stress and coping, and were less familiar with the notion of eustress. Study 2 further explored lay conceptualisation of stress and its links to health. Twenty-four workshop participants built metaphorical LEGO models of stress. Analysis of the models and their verbal descriptions revealed a set of interlinked metaphors. Study 3, an on-line framing experiment, determined whether metaphors can be a useful tool for communicating scientific knowledge of stress. Metaphors identified in study 2 were used to create metaphorical descriptions of stress that provided information to help address the discrepancies between public and scientific perspectives identified in study 1. To test the metaphors, 603 participants assigned to one of six groups (four experimental and two control) answered the same pre and post questions. The results confirmed that metaphors can improve lay understanding of stress. This research programme showed that stress is a broad and complex concept. The findings have the potential to improve public access to scientific knowledge, enhance public understanding of stress, promote well-designed policies regarding stress management, and facilitate early diagnosis and treatment of stress-related health problems.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Uncontrolled Keywords:stress; conceptual metaphors; lay conceptualisation; science communication; LEGO®
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:35714
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:30 Jun 2021 09:49
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:28


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