Survey results show that nine out of ten EU citizens (86%) consider the overall influence of science and technology to be positive
The latest Eurobarometer survey on “Knowledge and attitudes of European citizens towards science and technology” shows that nine out of ten EU citizens consider the overall influence of science and technology to be positive. Moreover, they believe that several technologies currently under development will have a positive impact on our way of life in the next twenty years. These include solar energy (92%), vaccines and the fight against infectious diseases (86%), and artificial intelligence (61%).
The results show not only the high level of interest in science and technology (82%), but also the desire of citizens to learn more about it in places such as town halls, museums and libraries (54%).
In many areas, the interest, expectations and commitment of EU citizens have increased in recent years. Most respondents mention health, healthcare and combating climate change when asked where research and innovation can make a difference.
Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Maria Gabriel, said: “The overall positive attitude towards science and technology is reassuring, as they are essential to respond to the coronavirus, climate change, biodiversity loss and many other pressing challenges. At the same time, we must respond to public concern that the benefits of science and technology are not equally distributed, pay more attention to the gender dimensions of research content, and consider how research and innovation can be conducted in ways that involve greater participation of citizens and other stakeholders.”
Further information revealed by the Eurobarometer survey are the challenges for research and innovation. Many EU citizens think that science and technology contribute mostly to improving the lives of those who are already better off (57%), and that they do not pay enough attention to the differences between the needs of women and men (23%).
EU citizens have a positive view of scientists and the characteristics that define them, such as intelligence (89%), reliability (68%) and collaborative nature (66%). More than two-thirds (68%) believe that scientists should be involved in policy debates to ensure that scientific evidence is taken into account in decisions.
In terms of information sources, most EU citizens get their information about science and technology from television (63%), followed by online social networks and blogs (29%), and online or print newspapers (24%). The vast majority (85%) believe that young people’s interest in science is essential for future prosperity. And also, a majority believe that the involvement of non-scientists in research and innovation ensures that science and technology respond to society’s needs and values (61%).
Nearly three-quarters of respondents (72%) think that governments should ensure that new technologies benefit everyone, and more than three-quarters (97%) believe that governments should force private companies to address climate change.
More information on the Eurobarometer survey
This latest Eurobarometer survey is the largest to date on science and technology in terms of the number of participants (37,103) and countries surveyed (38). The survey was conducted between April 13 and May 10, 2021, mainly through face-to-face interviews.
The involvement of citizens, local communities and civil society will be fundamental in the new European Research Area to achieve greater societal impact and trust in science.
Horizon Europe, the new EU research and innovation program (2021-2027), will strengthen interactions between science and society by fostering the co-creation of R&I programs and by directly involving citizens and civil society in research and innovation. It will do so throughout the Program and through specific activities, while monitoring the contributions of citizens and the uptake of R&I in society.