Valuing Values: Better Public Engagement on Nanotechnology Demands a Better Understanding of the Diversity of Publics

NanoEthics 8 (1):57-71 (2014)


As public attitude research evolves, often becoming more complex and variable, we are coming to understand that public attitudes are also more complex and variable than can often be captured by a single opinion poll, and more sophisticated forms of analyses are needed that look not just at a breadth of attitudes, but at a breadth of publics. The Australian Department of Industry undertook a public attitude study in 2012 that was not only longitudinal, looking at changes in attitudes towards nanotechnologies, but also looking at the values or worldviews that influence attitudes. The findings allowed for a segmentation of the public, into four key segments, with distinct homogenous attitudes. This allows for not just a deeper understanding of the diversity of views that exist and the worldviews that influence them, but challenges engagement practitioners to ensure they have a broad representation of participants with different attitudes and do not favour one or two segments only

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