Allum, Nick, Sturgis, Patrick, Tabourazi, Dimitra and Brunton-Smith, Ian
Science knowledge and attitudes across cultures: a meta-analysis.
Public Understanding of Science, 17, (1), . (doi:10.1177/0963662506070159).
The correlation between knowledge and attitudes has been the source of controversy in research on the public understanding of science (PUS). Although many studies, both quantitative and qualitative, have examined this issue, the results are at best diverse and at worst contradictory. In this paper, we review the evidence on the relationship between public attitudes and public knowledge about science across 40 countries using a meta-analytic approach. We fit multilevel models to data from 193 nationally representative surveys on PUS carried out since 1989. We find a small positive correlation between general attitudes towards science and general knowledge of scientific facts, after controlling for a range of possible confounding variables. This general relationship varies little across cultures but more substantially between different domains of science and technology. Our results suggest that PUS research needs to focus on understanding the mechanisms that underlie the clear association that exists between knowledge and attitudes about science.
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