new article reveals the results of a nationwide online poll on public perceptions of COVID-19 language and messaging. The poll identified words, messages, and the messengers most likely to influence health behavior.

Read it to find out whether the words fact-based or evidence-based work better.  What’s better, “protocol” or “mandate”? Is it better to say, “face mask” or “facial covering”?  Is it better to say “essential workers” or “frontline workers”?

Dramatic phrases don’t work well. Respondents found “warlike,” and fear-based messages off-putting.

Among the primary takeaways from the poll, COVID-19 communications are more likely to be effective if they focus on the benefits of success, not just the consequences of failure. People are less likely to follow public health measures based on fear alone.