Saturday, October 18, 2008

New PUoS study: Public opinion toward nano -- values as perceptual filters

An early-access version of a forthcoming article in Public Understanding of Science by Dominique Brossard, Eunkyung Kim, Bruce Lewenstein and myself was just posted on Sage's web site. It examines how values shape the interpretation of scientific information. The study shows how the exact same information can translate into very different attitudinal conclusions for highly religious respondents than for non-religious ones. In other words, we may be wasting valuable time and resources by focusing our efforts on putting more and more information in front of an unaware public, without first developing a better understanding of how different groups will filter or reinterpret this information when it reaches them, given their personal value systems and beliefs.

From the abstract:
Using national survey data, we ... show that strength of religious beliefs is negatively related to support for funding of the technology. Our findings also confirm that science media use plays an important role in shaping positive attitudes toward the technology. Overall public support for funding nanotechnology is not directly related to levels of knowledge among the electorate, but on risk and benefits perceptions and the use of media frames. However, knowledge about the technology does tend to be interpreted through the lens of religious beliefs and therefore indirectly affect levels of support.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Wisconsin #6 in social sciences, #3 in communication

Thomson Reuters just ranked UW-Madison as the 6th most-cited institution in the social sciences. This ranking is based on the citation counts between 1998 and 2008 for all disciplinary papers published in ISI's Social Science Citation Index, and lists Wisconsin ahead of schools like Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Yale, Stanford, Penn, Chicago, and Berkeley.

ISI also puts Communication at Wisconsin in the top-three again, based on the number of papers to the field of communication over the last five years.

Framing the bailout

One more piece of evidence on the importance of language. AdvertisingAge on how tweaking the language could have helped avoid legislative delays on the bailout/rescue package for U.S. financial institutions:

PR Pros Offer Pointers to 'Bailout' Backers
For Starters, 'Rescue' Might Be a Better Term

By Michael Bush
Published: October 01, 2008

"NEW YORK ( -- Better marketing could have delivered a bailout package by now. Indeed, according to some communications professionals, something as basic as not calling it a "bailout" may have meant faster approval. ..."

(Click here for full article.)