How will Americans react as they learn more about this novel science? Will popular attitudes be guided by the best available scientific evidence? Or will other influences affect public perceptions of nanotechnology risks This paper reports the result of an experimental investigation of these questions.
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How individuals process information on nanotechnology risks is critically dependent on the perceived cultural values of the information source. The impact of this "cultural credibility heuristic," experimental data show, can either accentuate or mitigate cultural polarization with respect to nanotechnology risk perceptions.
An experiment conducted by CCP researchers and published in Nature Nanotechnology shows that individuals' cultural predispositions guide their search for, and interpretation of, information on the risks and benefits of nanotechnology.
Individuals' initial limpressions of nanotechnology are affect driven. As they learn more, their positions polaraize along cultural lines. This is what the Cultural Cognition Project found in an experimental study, the results of which are reported and analyzed in this paper.