Author: John Kerr – Victoria University Wellington, New Zealand

Samantha Stanley
Marc Wilson

People don’t always see eye to eye despite having access to the same information. Our worldviews and values can influence how we attend to and interpret scientific information. Understanding when and how these factors come into play is critical to effective science communication, especially when dealing with contentious, publically debated issues.

This talk will report the results of a survey of New Zealand students, revealing how ideological attitudes about freedom and equality are linked to opinions on scientific issues covered in the media (such as climate change, vaccination, and genetic modification). Specifically, we find that individuals who endorse authoritarian and conformist views, or who value a hierarchical society, are more likely disagree with the scientific consensus. A lack of trust in scientists partially explains these relationships in some, but not all cases.

The findings underscore the importance of building trust but also offer insights into how messages about contentious scientific issues (for example vaccination campaigns) can be framed so as not to conflict with deeply held values and social attitudes.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Building a theoretical basis for science communication