If Looks Could Kill: The Impact of Different Rhetorical Styles on Persuasive Geocommunication
This study analyses the impact that different rhetorical styles have on reader trust in, fondness for and memory of maps showing the same exact data. Previous research has identified four unique rhetorical styles used on maps meant to persuade an audience. Four maps of a hypothetical nuclear meltdown in the USA using embellished radiation data were produced, each following the design guidelines of one of the four rhetorical styles. An online survey was created testing: (1) map readers’ inclination to believe the data being shown on the four maps; (2) the impact the representations had on personal views regarding nuclear power; (3) map reader trust in the maps; (4) fondness for the maps; and (5) memorability of the maps (i.e. how likely a map would be recalled). The results indicate that different map rhetorical styles result in different levels of opinion change, trust in the data and confidence in answering questions about the data. Designing convincing arguments with maps requires more than lying; different rhetorical designs can help achieve different persuasive goals.