When it comes to attitudes toward science and research, Swiss people fall into four distinct categories ranging from enthusiasts (28 percent) to completely uninterested (13 percent). Despite many differences between them, people in all categories support the promotion of science and research, reveals a study by the universities of Zurich and Fribourg.
The Science Barometer Switzerland published in 2016 showed a clear picture: Swiss people are interested in science and research, and think they are worth supporting. “This main finding doesn’t mean, however, that all Swiss people have the same attitude toward science.
A differentiated picture emerges by dividing the population into groups,” explains Julia Metag, professor at the University of Fribourg. She and a team of four researchers have reconstructed these groups in a newly published study and have discovered four types of Swiss people with differing attitudes toward science.
Enthusiasts and critically interested
Two of these types are very interested in science. The most interested, the “Sciencephiles,” say science plays an important role in their life. They are convinced not only that knowledge is very useful, but also that it can and will solve many problems. The “Sciencephiles” make up around 28 percent of the population, are mostly male, aged on average 47, and have a high level of education.
The second group (17 percent) are also very interested in science, but take a more critical position. The “Critically Interested” think that clear research constraints and boundaries need to be established in science due to the accompanying moral and ethical issues. But despite their skepticism, they are still more strongly in favor of providing public support for science than the average Swiss person.
Largest group are “Passive Supporters”
Nearly 42 percent of the population belong to the largest group: the “Passive Supporters”. These types of people generally trust science and think that, on the whole, it improves our lives. However, they are not particularly interested in finding out more about science, let alone taking part in a citizen science project. The majority of this group are female and their average age is 46.
The least common type – only around 13 percent of the population – are the “Disengaged.” Science virtually doesn’t play any role in their lives and therefore they do not think that there is any need to be informed about scientific matters. Their trust in science is the lowest of all types, and they also think that society relies too heavily on scientific research. Accordingly, this group are least in favor of public support for science and research. However, they do not actively believe it should not be supported, but rather are neutral about supporting it. Women also make up the majority of this group, and their average age is 45.
Different types, different media
“We constructed these types by looking at people’s attitudes towards science and research. However, if we look at media consumption, we can also see systematic differences between the types,” explains Tobias Füchslin, communications researcher at UZH.
The differences are the most clear cut in the variety of media channels used by the different types. The two types with the most interest in science – “Sciencephiles” and “Critically Interested” – use many channels and come into contact with science through television, radio, and newspapers. But more often they use the internet and actively inform themselves via Wikipedia and scientific websites. The “Disengaged,” however, hardly ever come into contact with science through their media consumption. With one exception: the radio and TV programs offered by the SRF reach this group just as often as the other three types.
Mike Schäfer, Tobias Füchslin, Julia Metag, Silje Kristiansen, Arian Rauchfleisch. The different audiences of science communication: A segmentation analysis of the Swiss population’s perceptions of science and their information and media use patterns. Public Understanding of Science. January XX, 2018. DOI: 10.1177/0963662517752886
Background to the project
The long-term project “Science Barometer Switzerland” examines what Swiss people think about scientific matters, and how various information sources from mass media, to social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and family and friends influence people’s perception of and trust in science.
A representative telephone survey of the Swiss population is undertaken every three years in order to understand the changing climate of science communication and its audience. In 2016, 1,051 people were questioned – 651 in German-speaking Switzerland, 200 in western Switzerland, and 200 in Ticino.
Beat Müller | Universität Zürich
More focus and comfort at telephone workstations
20.02.2020 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Digitale Medientechnologie IDMT
New cruise ship “Mein Schiff 1” features Fraunhofer 3D sound on board
05.09.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Digitale Medientechnologie IDMT
Researchers at the University of Bayreuth have discovered an unusual material: When cooled down to two degrees Celsius, its crystal structure and electronic properties change abruptly and significantly. In this new state, the distances between iron atoms can be tailored with the help of light beams. This opens up intriguing possibilities for application in the field of information technology. The scientists have presented their discovery in the journal "Angewandte Chemie - International Edition". The new findings are the result of close cooperation with partnering facilities in Augsburg, Dresden, Hamburg, and Moscow.
The material is an unusual form of iron oxide with the formula Fe₅O₆. The researchers produced it at a pressure of 15 gigapascals in a high-pressure laboratory...
Study by Mainz physicists indicates that the next generation of neutrino experiments may well find the answer to one of the most pressing issues in neutrino physics
Among the most exciting challenges in modern physics is the identification of the neutrino mass ordering. Physicists from the Cluster of Excellence PRISMA+ at...
Fraunhofer researchers are investigating the potential of microimplants to stimulate nerve cells and treat chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, or Parkinson’s disease. Find out what makes this form of treatment so appealing and which challenges the researchers still have to master.
A study by the Robert Koch Institute has found that one in four women will suffer from weak bladders at some point in their lives. Treatments of this condition...
The operational speed of semiconductors in various electronic and optoelectronic devices is limited to several gigahertz (a billion oscillations per second). This constrains the upper limit of the operational speed of computing. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg, Germany, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay have explained how these processes can be sped up through the use of light waves and defected solid materials.
Light waves perform several hundred trillion oscillations per second. Hence, it is natural to envision employing light oscillations to drive the electronic...
Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.
Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...
12.02.2020 | Event News
16.01.2020 | Event News
15.01.2020 | Event News
27.02.2020 | Life Sciences
27.02.2020 | Life Sciences
27.02.2020 | Life Sciences