Factors influencing public risk-benefit considerations of nanotechnology: Assessing the effects of mass media, interpersonal communication, and elaborative processing

Shirley S. Ho, Dietram A. Scheufele, Elizabeth Corley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examines the influence of mass media, interpersonal communication, and elaborative processing on public perception of benefits and risks of nanotechnology, based on a large-scale nationally representative telephone survey of U.S. adult citizens. Results indicate that cognitive processes in the form of news elaboration had a significant positive main effect on benefits outweigh risks perception. The influences of attention to science in newspapers, attention to science news on television, and interpersonal communication about science on public perception of benefits outweigh risks were moderated by elaborative processing, after controlling for socio-demographic variables, religious beliefs, trust in scientists, and scientific knowledge. The findings highlight the importance of elaborative processing when it comes to understanding how the mass media differentially influence public benefits outweigh risks perception of emerging technologies. Specifically, high elaborative processing emphasizes higher levels of perceived benefits outweigh risks than low elaborative processing. This study explores explanations for this phenomenon and offers implications for future research and policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)606-623
Number of pages18
JournalPublic Understanding of Science
Volume22
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2013

Keywords

  • benefits
  • elaborative processing
  • interpersonal communication
  • mass media
  • nanotechnology
  • risks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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