Nanotechnology and public opinion

nanowerk
January 24, 2011

The overall positive framing of nanotechnology in news outlets is also linked to support for more research and funding among the general public (Cobb & Macoubrie, 2004; Scheufele & Lewenstein, 2005). This connection

Aside from cognitive variables, research on public attitudes toward nanotechnology has also explored overall attitudes toward nanotechnology

between media coverage and support for nanotechnology, however, does not follow traditional knowledge deficit models (for an overview, see Brossard, Lewenstein, & Bonney, 2005). Instead, most research on public attitudes toward nanotechnology does not show an impact of media coverage on lay audiences’ understanding of the technology, which – according to knowledge deficit models – would produce more positive attitudes toward the technology.

One of these heuristics are media frames. Frames are ways of presenting an issue that will produce particular outcomes among audiences (Scheufele, 1999). Framing is often traced back to Nobel Prize winning work in experimental psychology that examined how embedding information in particular contexts can shape people’s interpretation of that information (Kahneman, 2003). When applied to mass media, framing theory suggests that even small terminological tweaks in terminology (“death tax” vs. “inheritance tax”) can activate different cognitive frameworks among audiences and shift the interpretation of the technology overall (Scheufele & Tewksbury, 2007).

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