Public perception of science and technology

28/06/2022

One of the recent “crises” experienced by science is associated with a decline in its public support. We conducted two factorial surveys among university students aiming at broadening our understanding of the information cues influencing the wider publics' judgments of science. We found that sociological and criminological research results are perceived as less plausible compared to neuroscientific and physiological research, but as more plausible than results from genetics. In contrast with the previous data on the importance of funding and institutional prestige cues as the indirect indicators of the research quality among academic experts, we discovered the absence of any effects of funding or institutional prestige for the selected type of general audience.

23/05/2022

There exist today many forms of anti-scientific beliefs, from extreme views like the QAnon conspiracies, to misconceptions about vaccines and cancer treatment. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented to us a situation in which the public is being asked by medical experts and politicians alike to trust in science and follow after various health recommendations like wearing masks or getting vaccinated against the virus. We used an anti-science belief scale [Morgan et al., 2018] to assess how preexisting beliefs that run counter to the scientific narrative predict behaviors during the pandemic. We found that people who were more accepting of those anti-scientific positions trusted medical information and experts less and engaged less in recommended health behaviors, while simultaneously showing a more favorable view of Trump's actions as President during the pandemic.

02/05/2022

Citizen consultations are public participation mechanisms designed to inform public policy and promote public dialogue. This article describes a deliberative consultation conducted within the CONCISE project framework. The aim was to gather qualitative knowledge about the means and channels through which European citizens acquire science-related knowledge, and how these influence their opinions and perceptions with respect to four socially relevant topics: vaccines, complementary and alternative medicine, genetically modified organisms, and climate change. In 2019, the CONCISE project carried out five citizen consultations in Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Italy and Portugal to explore the understanding of nearly 500 citizens, enabling the development of a standard for the carrying out of citizen consultations on science communication.

28/03/2022

This article will take you through the evolution of our approach in presenting and communicating science. For twenty years ‘1, 2, 3, sciences’ has run participatory live workshops for adults. A special tool, the Group Provisory Conclusion or GPC, involving each participant, contributes to the success. Our expectation was to rekindle the public’s interest through participatory methods, supported by the emergence of collective intelligence. It describes our actions to help people reduce their apprehension towards science.

28/02/2022

The ‘Born or Built? — Our Robotic Future’ (‘BOB?’) exhibition examines relationships between humans, robots and artificial intelligence. It encourages visitors to explore ethical and social issues surrounding these new technologies and invites visitors to post their own questions. We examine visitor responses to the exhibit “A of the Day”, which encourages visitors to engage by writing down their own question prompted by their experience in ‘BOB?’. As responses were submitted, it became apparent that the questions posed by visitors were potentially a valuable contribution to future science communication policy about robotics, and to those designing and implementing these technologies. We performed a content analysis that distilled themes in visitors' open-ended questioning that conveyed visitor knowledge and insight into what science communication about robotic technologies needs to address. Taken this way, visitors' questions form a moment of dialogue between the public and science communicators, engineers and researchers in which visitors contribute their knowledge and ideas about robotics. Such moments of dialogue are potentially valuable if the public is to be included in the development of robotics technology to build trust in robotics technology.

15/12/2021

While research shows different links between activism and science, little is known about activists engaging in science communication online. Demanding that decision-makers should “listen to the scientists”, the climate movements Fridays for Future (FFF) and Extinction Rebellion (XR) emphasize the role of scientific knowledge in democratic decision-making. Exploring the two movements' hyperlinking practices reveals a difference in the extent and selection of hyperlinks on their websites, pointing to influencer-based communication and focus on popularization of science by FFF and expert-based communication leaning on academic publications by XR, with both movements acting as amplifiers of existing science communication efforts.

13/12/2021

While most Americans believes in climate change, to elicit action, communicators should use strategies to convey risks. One strategy is to cognitively engage individuals by eliciting curiosity. Previous studies have shown that individuals with higher science curiosity are more likely to perceive the risk of climate change. This study uses scientists’ act of sharing personal anecdotes to elicit curiosity and examines the effect of scientist’s traits on risk perception. Results show that anecdotes do not affect any of the variables. However, there is a positive relationship between curiosity and risk perception, and between trust in scientists and risk perception.

29/11/2021

Despite scientific consensus that genetically modified (GM) food is safe to eat, the American public remains skeptical. This study (N=73) investigates the proposed role of disgust in driving opposition to GM food, which is debated in extant literature. Using physiological measures of disgust, alongside self-report measures, this study suggests that disgust plays a role in driving skepticism toward GM food, but not other food and health technologies. We further discuss the possible influence of risk sensitivity and perceptions of unnaturalness on attitudes toward novel science.

11/10/2021

Citizen science involves laymen in some steps of a scientific experiment: citizens are volunteers devoting their free time to citizen science projects. Therefore it is important to investigate the factors influencing their motivation and engagement. In this paper, we present our study to investigate the motivation factors of the TESS photometer network participants, an initiative to collect light pollution data. We present the results and insight of our investigation and the instrument we adopted, which can be useful for the broad citizen science community.

29/09/2021

The promise of CRISPR-Cas9 (CRISPR) genomic editing applied to agriculture is promoted widely by scientists. We utilized textual analysis methods to compare perceptions of this innovation held by various stakeholder groups — scientists, policymakers, farmers, and the general public. Results reveal distinctions in the semantic structure and concepts emphasized across groups. Scientists and policymakers exhibited a high level of technical sophistication while emphasizing the potential societal benefits, while farmers and the general public focused on perceived personal benefits and familiarity with the issue. These results will aid development of message strategies bridging the gap between the scientific community and key publics.

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