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Commonsense, trust and science: How patterns of beliefs and attitudes to science pose challenges for effective communication

Rosemary Hipkins, Wendy Stockwell, Rachel Bolstad and Robyn Baker

Report on an investigation into what the public thinks, knows, and feels about science.

The research involved a telephone survey of 800 members of the New Zealand public, and small-scale focus group discussions with four different groups.

The research identified six sectors of New Zealand society, each with a different profile of attitudes towards and beliefs about science. These sectors showed many similarities to the sectors that were found in similar recent UK research.

The report provides key recommendations for effective communication of science to the public. It suggests that attitudes of distrust towards science can arise when 'common sense' is the guide that people bring to the judgments they make about the plausibility of scientific research.

Year published: 
Publication type: 
Research report
NZCER/ACNielsen for the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology (MoRST)
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