Church and the bedroom: The relationship between religious service attendance and information about the emergency contraceptive pills

Author: Emma Harcourt – University of Otago, New Zealand

Co-author: Jesse Bering – University of Otago

This visual presentation consists of a poster illustrating the strong relationship between the frequency of religious service attendance and beliefs and attitudes about the emergency contraceptive pill (ECP). Exposure to factual information about ECPs in an experimental setting had a small but statistically significant effect in changing attitudes towards the medication and its users. However, participants of the experiment who stated they attended religious services more frequently were less likely to be influenced by factual information about ECPs and were the more likely to express negative beliefs and attitudes towards the medication and those who use it, regardless of which exposure group they were randomly assigned to.

I believe that this serves as an interesting example of how personal beliefs alter the way that individuals interact with scientific information and how we as science communicators must adapt our messages to different audiences. The example of religious service attendance and information about the ECP helps to illustrate a fatal flaw in the deficit model: that members of the public are not empty vessels passively receiving information, as pre-existing ideas can significantly alter how receptive the audience is to a particular message or set of facts.

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

Presentation type: Visual talk
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices