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Legacy media as inhibitors and drivers of public reservations against science: global survey evidence on the link between media use and anti-science attitudes


Mede, Niels G (2022). Legacy media as inhibitors and drivers of public reservations against science: global survey evidence on the link between media use and anti-science attitudes. Humanities & Social Sciences Communications, 9(1):40.

Abstract

Public resentment toward scientific institutions, scholars, and their expertise challenges the status of science in society in many countries worldwide. It is thus essential to examine the global prevalence of such resentment—and the potential of legacy media to temper it, thanks to their ability to cultivate positive views of science, educate citizens, and connect publics to scientific discourse. However, existing research has mostly surveyed Western populations, focused on pro-science rather than anti-science views, rarely studied the role of media use, and often ignored country characteristics that may interact with media use. This secondary analysis addresses these caveats, drawing on the 2017–2020 wave of the World Values Survey (N = 70,867 in 49 countries) and three relevant country-level indicators (freedom of the press, populism, uncertainty avoidance). Findings indicate that anti-science attitudes vary substantially across countries and are more prevalent in many Latin American nations. Results of Bayesian multilevel regressions show that frequent use of newspapers, TV, and radio indeed alleviates anti-science attitudes in some countries—but fosters them in others, particularly in those where populist rhetoric is more prevalent in public discourse, potentially because such rhetoric often challenges science and academic expertise. These findings call for further comparative research on global reservations against science and reflections about their repercussions on the science-society nexus.

Abstract

Public resentment toward scientific institutions, scholars, and their expertise challenges the status of science in society in many countries worldwide. It is thus essential to examine the global prevalence of such resentment—and the potential of legacy media to temper it, thanks to their ability to cultivate positive views of science, educate citizens, and connect publics to scientific discourse. However, existing research has mostly surveyed Western populations, focused on pro-science rather than anti-science views, rarely studied the role of media use, and often ignored country characteristics that may interact with media use. This secondary analysis addresses these caveats, drawing on the 2017–2020 wave of the World Values Survey (N = 70,867 in 49 countries) and three relevant country-level indicators (freedom of the press, populism, uncertainty avoidance). Findings indicate that anti-science attitudes vary substantially across countries and are more prevalent in many Latin American nations. Results of Bayesian multilevel regressions show that frequent use of newspapers, TV, and radio indeed alleviates anti-science attitudes in some countries—but fosters them in others, particularly in those where populist rhetoric is more prevalent in public discourse, potentially because such rhetoric often challenges science and academic expertise. These findings call for further comparative research on global reservations against science and reflections about their repercussions on the science-society nexus.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > General Business, Management and Accounting
Social Sciences & Humanities > General Arts and Humanities
Social Sciences & Humanities > General Social Sciences
Social Sciences & Humanities > General Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > General Economics, Econometrics and Finance
Language:English
Date:1 December 2022
Deposited On:15 Feb 2022 16:31
Last Modified:30 Apr 2022 07:18
Publisher:SpringerOpen
ISSN:2662-9992
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-022-01058-y
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)