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Understanding shifting perceptions of nanotechnologies and their implications for policy dialogues about emerging technologies

Satterfield, Terre, Conti, Joe, Harthorn, Barbara Herr, Pidgeon, Nicholas Frank and Pitts, Anton 2013. Understanding shifting perceptions of nanotechnologies and their implications for policy dialogues about emerging technologies. Science and Public Policy 40 (2) , pp. 247-260. 10.1093/scipol/scs084

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Communications from scientists and engineers indicate concern about the potential for public aversion to nanotechnologies. Recommendations that policy dialogues occur early and often as public perceptions emerge have followed, and multiple surveys indicate high benefit ratings. This paper explores instead the mobile and conditional quality of current perceptions of the risks and benefits of nanotechnologies, and of judgments of trust in regulation. Drawing from a nationally representative phone survey of 1,100 US residents, we found that presenting risk information after benefit information had a significant impact on acceptability ratings as compared to the reverse order. Trust judgments were also mobile, and interacted with affective predispositions towards nanotechnologies. Overall, for policy purposes and dialogues, we find high attitudinal uncertainty suggesting considerable openness to context-specific considerations as linked to acceptability of new technologies. We also caution against over promotion of benefits and an avoidance of appropriate risk discussions in the short term.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACES)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Nanotechnologies; perceived risk and benefit; trust and affect; shifting perception; spublic policy dialogues
Publisher: Beech Tree Publishing
ISSN: 0302-3427
Funders: USNSF
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 06:14

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