Getting adolescents to inform themselves about ecogenomics: a Dutch case study
Public opinions toward emergent technologies may be highly dependent on the manner in which people are introduced to these technologies for the very first time. In this light, understanding how such first introductions are related to adolescents’ information seeking behaviors and their developing opinions may be particularly interesting because this target public can be considered to be not only future users of the technology but also future decision makers of its development. The present paper presents a case study of the introduction of ecogenomics among 246 adolescents who were asked to inform themselves about this technology and to write two essays: one that would reflect their personal opinions, and another that would reflect their advice to the Dutch government about further funding of ecogenomics research. Results showed that the Internet was by far their preferred source of information and that most adolescents held positive attitudes toward ecogenomics as expressed in essays that reflected their personal opinions and advice to others. In their perspective, ecogenomics was a positive development in science because of expected benefits concerning medical and environmental applications, such as the potential discovery of new antibiotics and the possible use in bioremediation.