What do members of the public think about the benefits and risks of nanotechnology? How will their views evolve as they learn more? How can goverment promote informed public deliberations about this novel science? Project members are conducting experimental studies to answer these questions.
Its immense range of potential applications -- scientific, commercial, and medical -- marks nanotechnology as one of the most promising new forms of applied science. The future of nanotechnology, however, will depend not just on anticipation of its likely benefits but also on fear of its possible risks. Many members of the public, often upon hearing of nanotechnology for the first time, react with near-instantaneous concern about the hazards it may pose to the environment and to human health. Despite the nascent state of the nanotechnology industry, moreover, efforts to subject it to comprehensive regulation are already under way.
As a component of its NSF-funded project on the mechanisms of cultural cognition, the Cultural Cogntion Project, in collaboration with the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, is conducting research to determine what people think about nanotechnology and how they respond to information about it. Three major experimental studies have already been completed, and others are underway.
Nanotechnology and society: The evolution of risk perceptions
Cultural Cognition of the Risks and Benefits of Nanotechnology
Affect, Values, and Nanotechnology Risk Perceptions
The Future of Nanotechnology Risk Perceptions: An Experimental Investigation
Cultural Credibility and Nanotechnology Risk Perceptions