Making sense of policy choices: Understanding the roles of value predispositions, mass media, and cognitive processing in public attitudes toward nanotechnology

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

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations

Abstract

Using a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,015 adults in the United States, this study examines how value predispositions, communication variables, and perceptions of risks and benefits are associated with public support for federal funding of nanotechnology. Our findings show that highly religious individuals were less supportive of funding of nanotech than less religious individuals, whereas individuals who held a high deference for scientific authority were more supportive of funding of the emerging technology than those low in deference. Mass media use and elaborative processing of scientific news were positively associated with public support for funding, whereas factual scientific knowledge had no significant association with policy choices. The findings suggest that thinking about and reflecting upon scientific news promote better understanding of the scientific world and may provide a more sophisticated cognitive structure for the public to form opinions about nanotech than factual scientific knowledge. Finally, heuristic cues including trust in scientists and perceived risks and benefits of nanotech were found to be associated with public support for nanotech funding. We conclude with policy implications that will be useful for policymakers and science communication practitioners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2703-2715
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Volume12
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2010

Keywords

  • ELSI
  • Elaborative processing
  • Interpersonal discussion
  • Mass media
  • Nanotechnology
  • Risk
  • Societal implications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Making sense of policy choices: Understanding the roles of value predispositions, mass media, and cognitive processing in public attitudes toward nanotechnology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this