Positive Emotions

Positive Emotions

Building upon a visitor's positive emotional connection to an exhibit gives an interpreter an opportunity to delve into the impacts of global warming and ocean acidification, linking people's actions to the species well-being and the ocean's health.

One of the bright spots in interpreting climate change may be younger audiences. Today's younger audiences have access to more information, have a more global perspective and are more willing to change their consumption/lifestyle choices than older generations. However, younger audiences and especially young children can react very negatively when exposed to environmental issues in a scary or threatening way. They quickly pick up information but do not have the filters that life experience provides, and they can react strongly to negative information. There are many reasons to keep a positive tenor when talking about climate change, and avoiding a fearful reaction is one.

Instead, try to use positive examples of actions that are helping, share good news, present a positive vision of the future, and explore personal and collective actions we might take to make a difference. Smile, be relaxed and look like you're having fun and your audience will relax and engage with you.

Positive emotions lend themselves to creating opportunities for emotional connections, particularly when interpreting climate change to children. Make the ecosystem accessible using terms a child can understand. Activate comfort and positive emotions, be uplifting and inspiring, and ask the child to relate the theme to their own life.

In the video below, note how the interpreter uses positive emotions when talking to a group of unaware yet supportive Girl Scouts in front of the Steller sea lion exhibit, relating the fish he eats to fisheries, population status and what we can do to help.

Lesson Take Away: 

Using positive emotions you can create opportunities for emotional connections and inspire action, particularly when interpreting climate change to children.

Last Updated: September 30, 2014