Research and analysis: Public attitudes to science 2019

This is the sixth in a series of studies looking at the UK public’s attitudes to science, scientists and science policy.

Public attitudes to science 2019 (PAS 2019) uses a mix of research and allows some trends to be tracked as far back as 1988.

Overall, the survey results show that attitudes have remained broadly the same since the 2014 study, with scientists and engineers being seen as some of the most trustworthy professionals in the eyes of the public. The report also shows that the public is supportive of spending on ‘blue skies’ research, and that UK adults are becoming more familiar with, and more adaptable to, an ever-accelerating pace of technological change.

PAS 2019 uses a mix of methodologies, including:

  • a face-to-face survey of 1,749 UK adults aged 16+ carried out in January-April 2019 using a random probability sampling approach. The survey comprised a core section of questions which have been tracked over time, and 4 topic-focussed modules:
    • ageing society
    • AI, robots and data
    • genome editing
    • micro-pollution and plastics
  • a literature review conducted by Dr Kevin Burchell which comprised an independent review and synthesis of existing literature, primarily since 2010 (Burchell, 2019)
  • 4 waves of online qualitative research using a deliberative digital dialogue process, and 16 face-to-face qualitative group discussions with digitally excluded participants, focussed on 4 science-related topics
  • 4 waves of social listening, to track how 4 different science topics were discussed online over the last 2 years

The technical and other related reports are available from the Kantar PAS 2019 website.