Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Survey: Hiding Risks Can Hurt Public Support For Nanotechnology

This illustration was used to represent a nanoscale medical device in the national survey on public attitudes towards the use of nanotechnology for human enhancement.
This illustration was used to represent a nanoscale medical device in the national survey on public attitudes towards the use of nanotechnology for human enhancement.

Abstract:
A new national survey on public attitudes toward medical applications and physical enhancements that rely on nanotechnology shows that support for the technology increases when the public is informed of the technology's risks as well as its benefits - at least among those people who have heard of nanotechnology.

By Matt Shipman

Survey: Hiding Risks Can Hurt Public Support For Nanotechnology

Raleigh, NC | Posted on May 4th, 2010

The survey, which was conducted by researchers at North Carolina State University and Arizona State University (ASU), also found that discussing risks decreased support among those people who had never previously heard of nanotechnology - but not by much.

"The survey suggests that researchers, industries and policymakers should not be afraid to display the risks as well as the benefits of nanotechnology," says Dr. Michael Cobb, an associate professor of political science at NC State who conducted the survey. "We found that when people know something about nanotechnologies for human enhancement, they are more supportive of it when they are presented with balanced information about its risks and benefits."

The survey was conducted by Cobb in collaboration with Drs. Clark Miller and Sean Hays of ASU, and was funded by the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at ASU.

However, talking about risks did not boost support among all segments of the population. Those who had never heard of nanotechnology prior to the survey were slightly less supportive when told of its potential risks.

In addition to asking participants how much they supported the use of nanotechnology for human enhancements, they were also asked how beneficial and risky they thought these technologies would be, whether they were worried about not getting access to them, and who should pay for them - health insurance companies or individuals paying out-of-pocket. The potential enhancements addressed in the survey run the gamut from advanced cancer treatments to bionic limbs designed to impart greater physical strength.

One segment of participants was shown an image of an unrealistic illustration meant to represent a nanoscale medical device. A second segment was shown the image and given a "therapeutic" framing statement that described the technology as being able to restore an ill person to full health. A third segment was given the image, along with an "enhancement" framing statement that described the technology as being able to make humans faster, stronger and smarter. Two additional segments were given the image, the framing statements and information about potential health risks. And a final segment of participants was not given the image, a framing statement or risk information.

The survey found that describing the technology as therapeutic resulted in much greater public support for the technology, as well as a greater perception of its potential benefits. The therapeutic frame also resulted in increased support for health insurance coverage of nanotech treatments once they become available, and increased concerns that people wouldn't be able to afford such treatments without insurance coverage.

"These findings suggest that researchers, policymakers and industries would be well advised to focus their research efforts on developing therapeutic technologies, rather than enhancements, because that is the area with the greatest public support," Cobb says.

The use of the nanotech image did not have a significant overall impact on participants' support, but did alarm people who were not previously familiar with nanotechnology - making them less likely to support it.

The survey was conducted by Knowledge Networks between April 2-13. The survey included 849 participants, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percent.

NC State's Department of Political Science is part of the university's College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Matt Shipman
News Services
919.515.6386

Dr. Michael Cobb
919.513.3709

Copyright © North Carolina State University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Carbon nanotube optics poised to provide pathway to optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing: Researchers are exploring enhanced potential of carbon nanotubes for unique applications June 18th, 2018

Camouflaged nanoparticles used to deliver killer protein to cancer June 17th, 2018

Squeezing light at the nanoscale: Ultra-confined light could detect harmful molecules June 17th, 2018

Physicists devise method to reveal how light affects materials: The new method adds to the understanding of the fundamental laws governing the interaction of electrons and light June 15th, 2018

Ethics

Iran to hold intl. school on application of nanomaterials in medicine September 20th, 2016

Synthetic biology needs robust safety mechanisms before real world application: Ethics and technology hold the key to the success of synthetic biology September 17th, 2015

March 2016; 6th Int'l Conference on Nanostructures in Iran July 29th, 2015

PETA science consortium to present at Society for Risk Analysis meeting December 10th, 2014

Preparing for Nano

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years: Targeted medicine deliveries and increased energy efficiency are just two of many ways October 26th, 2016

Searching for a nanotech self-organizing principle May 1st, 2016

Nanotechnology is changing everything from medicine to self-healing buildings: Nanotechnology is so small it's measured in billionths of metres, and it is revolutionising every aspect of our lives April 2nd, 2016

Durnham University's DEEPEN project comes to a close September 26th, 2012

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Carbon nanotube optics poised to provide pathway to optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing: Researchers are exploring enhanced potential of carbon nanotubes for unique applications June 18th, 2018

Camouflaged nanoparticles used to deliver killer protein to cancer June 17th, 2018

Squeezing light at the nanoscale: Ultra-confined light could detect harmful molecules June 17th, 2018

Tripling the Energy Storage of Lithium-Ion Batteries: Scientists have synthesized a new cathode material from iron fluoride that surpasses the capacity limits of traditional lithium-ion batteries June 14th, 2018

Possible Futures

Carbon nanotube optics poised to provide pathway to optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing: Researchers are exploring enhanced potential of carbon nanotubes for unique applications June 18th, 2018

Camouflaged nanoparticles used to deliver killer protein to cancer June 17th, 2018

Squeezing light at the nanoscale: Ultra-confined light could detect harmful molecules June 17th, 2018

Physicists devise method to reveal how light affects materials: The new method adds to the understanding of the fundamental laws governing the interaction of electrons and light June 15th, 2018

Nanomedicine

Camouflaged nanoparticles used to deliver killer protein to cancer June 17th, 2018

Graphene carpets: So neurons communicate better: Research by SISSA reveals that graphene can strengthen neuronal activity, confirming the unique properties of this nanomaterial. The study has been published on Nature Nanotechnology June 13th, 2018

New optical sensor can determine if molecules are left or right 'handed' June 13th, 2018

A nanotech sensor that turns molecular fingerprints into bar codes June 7th, 2018

Announcements

Carbon nanotube optics poised to provide pathway to optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing: Researchers are exploring enhanced potential of carbon nanotubes for unique applications June 18th, 2018

Camouflaged nanoparticles used to deliver killer protein to cancer June 17th, 2018

Squeezing light at the nanoscale: Ultra-confined light could detect harmful molecules June 17th, 2018

Physicists devise method to reveal how light affects materials: The new method adds to the understanding of the fundamental laws governing the interaction of electrons and light June 15th, 2018

Nanobiotechnology

Camouflaged nanoparticles used to deliver killer protein to cancer June 17th, 2018

Graphene carpets: So neurons communicate better: Research by SISSA reveals that graphene can strengthen neuronal activity, confirming the unique properties of this nanomaterial. The study has been published on Nature Nanotechnology June 13th, 2018

New optical sensor can determine if molecules are left or right 'handed' June 13th, 2018

Promising news from biomedicine: DNA origami more resilient than previously understood June 4th, 2018

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project