Press release 26 January 2015
Public confidence in scientists is falling in Sweden, especially among Swedish men. There is also a decrease in the number of Swedes who believe that scientific developments are improving their lives. At the same time, one in two Swedes are keen to get involved in research to tackle major societal challenges. These are some of the findings from the latest barometer conducted by Swedish non-profit organisation VA (Public & Science).
After a few years of very high confidence figures, the number of Swedes who have fairly or very high confidence in researchers at universities has dropped this year from 89 to 78 percent. In addition, confidence in researchers at companies has decreased and is now at 55 percent, compared with 59 percent last year.
“This is a relatively large change. However, we must bear in mind that public confidence in the last two years has been at a record high and that this year’s figures are still high compared to many other professions,” said Maria Lindholm, Director of Research at Vetenskap & Allmänhet (Public & Science).
The public’s belief in the ability of scientific developments to improve the lives of ordinary people has also fallen in this year’s barometer from 88 to 74 percent. On the other hand, confidence in technological developments is stable at around 80 percent.
Responsible research and innovation (RRI) is an ambition that permeates the EU’s research programme, Horizon 2020. RRI means conducting research to find solutions to major societal problems, such as health and climate change, in consultation with researchers, companies, organisations, the education sector, policy makers and the public. In this year’s VA Barometer, over half of the respondents expressed a willingness to participate in this type of research process.
“Compared with other Europeans, Swedes are the ones with the most interest in science and technology. The fact that the majority of Swedes say they are keen to be involved in the research process can be seen as a further indication of this,” said Maria Lindholm.
The VA barometer is based on 1000 telephone interviews with a representative sample of the Swedish population aged 16 – 74. Interviews were carried out by market research company Exquiro between 22 September and 5 October 2014. The questions can be found on VA’s website (in Swedish only): www.v-a.se/downloads/varapport2014_4-fragebatteri.pdf. This is the 13th survey to be conducted since VA was founded in 2002.
The barometer is supported by Forte, the Swedish Research Council and VINNOVA.
To find out more download the English version of the VA Barometer or contact:
Maria Lindholm, Director of Research at VA, who is responsible for the survey tel: +46 (0)70-867 66 77
Cissi Billgren Askwall, Secretary General of VA, tel: +46 (0)70-626 44 74
High resolution portrait photographs can be found at www.v-a.se/om-va/press/pressbilder/
Vetenskap & Allmänhet, VA, (Public and Science) promotes dialogue and openness between researchers and the public, especially young people. The organisation works to create new forms of dialogue about research. VA is also developing new knowledge on the relationship between research and society through surveys and studies. Its members consist of over 80 organisations, authorities, companies and associations. In addition, it has a number of individual members. For more information visit www.v-a.se/in-english/