The Spanish Science and Technology Foundation (FECYT) presented today at the Ortega-Marañón Foundation the main results of the XI Research on Social Perception of Science and Technology corresponding to the year 2022.
This biannual survey investigates the knowledge of the attitudes and behaviors of the population living in Spain in relation to science and technology. It is the only survey of these characteristics carried out in our country, with a sample of more than six thousand people from all over the national territory.
It is the only survey of these characteristics carried out in Spain, with a sample of more than six thousand people.
The event was attended by the general director of FECYT, Imma Aguilar, and the director of the Ortega Marañón Foundation, Lucía Sala. The results were presented by the two scientific co-directors of the research: Celia Díaz Catalán, sociologist and professor at the Complutense University of Madrid) and Pablo Cabrera Álvarez, researcher at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex (United Kingdom). ). A debate followed, in which, in addition to the scientific co-directors, Gema Revuelta, director of the Center for the Study of Science, Communication and Society (UPF) participated.
The quantitative study was structured around 11 major areas: interest in scientific and technological issues; social image and trust in science and technology; social image of the scientific profession; scientific knowledge; science and technology and media; health, vaccines and covid-19; institutional support for science; climate change and science; attitude and positioning towards science and technology; denial and impact of new technologies. In addition, as a novelty, this edition of the survey includes some new questions that make it possible to inquire about some aspects related to science, its communication, scientific institutions and research personnel.
Increase interest in science
The degree of interest in science and technology issues has increased, breaking the downward trend observed since 2016. Thus, 47.2% of respondents declared to be interested in science and technology. Furthermore, among the topics of most interest, there are others that are also related to science, such as food and consumption (62.6%); medicine and health (57.2%) or environment and ecology (49.4%).
It should be noted that this increase in interest in science has been more significant among women and people over 64 years of age.
Parallel to the growing interest in science, the population’s participation in science-related activities is also growing. Visits to science and technology museums (31.3%) or participation in science dissemination activities (18.5%) had a strong recovery compared to 2020 (13.7% and 10.2%, respectively).
Trust in science and technology
More than 6 out of 10 people surveyed believe that “the benefits of science and technology outweigh the harm”. This positive perception of science and technology is greater among adult men between 35 and 54 years old, people with a higher level of education and people from households with above average income.
If we look at the perceived benefits versus harms of science and technology on some issues. It is considered beneficial for “combating diseases and epidemics” (69.7%), improving “the quality of life in society” (59.4%) contributing to “conserving the environment and nature” (41.3% ), allows “the generation of new jobs” (38.8%) and is positive for “increasing individual freedoms” (35.2%). ”.
The surveyed population also considers that science applications such as wind turbines (74.5%), artificial intelligence (47.4%), animal experimentation for medical purposes (40.4%) and the robotization of work (39 .2%) are beneficial. Nuclear energy (35%), growing genetically modified plants (29.6%) and fracking (15.7%) are not considered beneficial.
There is a high degree of trust in hospitals (78.9%), universities (72.8%) and public research organizations (59.9%)
As a result of the above, the surveyed population has a high degree of trust in institutions such as hospitals (78.9%), universities (72.8%) and public research organizations (59.9%). However, they show greater distrust towards governments and public administrations.
Scientific staff once again enjoyed significant recognition from the citizens of our country with an average rating of 4.2 on a scale of 1 to 5, surpassed only by doctors (4.57) and professors (4.31).
The career of scientific and research personnel is perceived as “attractive for young people” and “personally rewarding”, but it continues to be a profession with “poor financial remuneration” (61.7%), “little social recognition” (62, 7%) and “no job stability” (61.8%).
The Survey of Social Perception of Science and Technology shows a good scientific literacy of the citizens of our country. Thus, the vast majority correctly answered the questions raised: the Earth revolves around the Sun (89.2%); eating a genetically modified fruit does not change the genes of those who eat it (82.5%), humans have never lived with dinosaurs (79.6%) and correctly identify the origin of climate change (74.2%) and, to a lesser extent extent, the public knows that antibiotics cure infections caused by bacteria (67.9%) and correctly identifies the application of the pi number (28%).
In total, 15.3% got all six questions right and 73.1% got four or more questions right. Percentages very similar to previous editions.
Internet and social networks
The Internet has again become the most used medium for information on science and technology (71.2%), followed by television (64.7%), radio (30.1%), books (28.4%) ), popular scientific or technical journals (26.8%) and the written press (23.5%).
Among people who prefer to get information via the Internet, almost 7 out of 10 people do so via videos (68.1%), 64.9% via social networks and 58.1% rely on the media.
Among people who prefer to get information over the Internet, 69.1% do so through videos, 64.9% through social networks and 58.1% rely on digital media in general.
It is noteworthy that the use of social networks and videos are the main channels of information about science on the Internet for people between 15 and 34 years old and, on the other hand, digital media in general are preferred by men between 55 and 64 years old and according to the training level increases.
The surveyed population considers that the information they receive about science is positive (84.0%), true (71.5%) and understandable (60.2%), but also insufficient (76.7%) and superficial (60. 5%). Women over 64 years old perceive scientific information as less understandable.
Health, vaccines and covid-19
The National Health System once again received a largely positive evaluation (67.1%). It falls slightly after the recovery in the previous survey, carried out in the context of the covid-19 pandemic, in which it reached the historical maximum of 78.3% of positive evaluations.
In this edition, a change can be observed in the way the population seeks information on health issues. The use of the Internet and social networks drops (48.2% compared to 66.1% in 2020), while citizens rely more on pharmaceutical staff (from 21% in 2020 to 32.5%) and on family and friends ( from 15.6% to 27.4%). The percentage of people who continue to trust doctors as a credible source of information remains unchanged, 67.4% in 2020 and 66.1% in 2022.
Eight out of ten people agree that vaccines are necessary to protect people’s health
In general, there is a high level of confidence in vaccines. Eight out of ten people agree that “vaccines are necessary to protect people’s health”.
Institutional support for science
Eight out of ten citizens also consider that “the results of scientific research financed with public money should be freely accessible” (83.5%) and three out of four respondents (75%) agree with funding with public money. it does not bring immediate benefits, as it advances knowledge.
Likewise, citizens demand greater investment in science and technology by all levels of Public Administration (Government of Spain (78.8%), regional (72.1%) or local (66.7%)) and private companies (72.4%).
83.5% of citizens believe that the results of scientific research financed with public money should be freely accessible
The percentage of citizens who have participated in science actions is quite low. For example, 28.1% have already participated in demonstrations or signed petitions on topics related to science, 10.1% participate in meetings or public debates on technology and, in the case of participation in activities of non-governmental organizations, the percentage is only 8%.
Denial about scientific issues is a residual factor, standing at levels below 10%, considering those who completely deny or question scientific evidence. The only exception would be the statement “Man never reached the Moon”, with which 17.6% of respondents would agree.
Regarding climate change, half of the population surveyed considers climate change to be a very serious problem, although the percentage has dropped by almost ten points since the 2020 edition (60.2%). Only 5.8% believe that this phenomenon depends exclusively on natural processes and 64.9% consider human action a determining factor for climate change.
Only 5.8% believe that this phenomenon depends exclusively on natural processes and 64.9% consider human action a determining factor for climate change.
The way in which the population feels empowered to take advantage of the impact of new technologies is very different. While 61% are confident they can take advantage of new digital opportunities, nearly one in five people don’t feel empowered.
In addition, the number of people who consider artificial intelligence a high risk of being manipulated with our own data is growing (70.4%), although more than a third are convinced of the possibilities of AI in improving public services.
All information about the survey is available on the FECYT website. The event was broadcast live on the channel FECYT YouTube.