Exploring citizens' responses to science in public policy through natural language processing and conjoint experiments

by Dr Laszlo Horvath and Professor Deborah Mabbett

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The British Academy
Number of pages


This report reflects the findings of one of the research projects funded by the British Academy under its Science, Trust and Policymaking project. The report contents are the sole responsibility of the authors.

Under what conditions is science viewed as authoritative and trustworthy in policymaking? Our evidence suggests public willingness to engage with scientific content. On a nationally representative scale, polarisation around science appears to be driven less by anti-science sentiment and more by the perception that other forms of knowledge should also matter. Public participation in the production of science and clearer local relevance of research may mitigate ‘epistemic inequalities’ between experts and citizens. In summary, key findings from this research indicate that:

  1. The nature of disagreement matters
  2. Democratic cues matter
  3. No crisis but room for clarity

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