Press release 7 February 2019
A large majority of the Swedish public have high confidence in research and researchers. In addition, most Swedes believe that science has made life better for ordinary people. These are some of the findings from this year’s annual VA Barometer conducted by Swedish non-profit organisation VA (Public & Science).
“It’s heartening that we have such strong confidence in research and researchers in Sweden. Science is crucial for tackling issues such as climate change, and broad public trust is therefore vital,” said Martin Bergman, a researcher at VA (Public & Science) and responsible for this year’s VA Barometer.
Every autumn since 2002, VA has been measuring the Swedish public’s attitudes to research and science. This year, 84 percent of Swedes said that they have fairly or very high confidence in researchers at Swedish universities. In addition, 78 percent believe that science has made life better for ordinary people.
When it comes to the relationship between research and politics, 43 percent believe that science has too weak influence on politics. Whereas, 35 percent think that politics has too strong influence on science.
“Many people also said they would have liked to see more facts used during last year’s general election debate, something which our #Hurvetdudet? (How do you know that?) campaign sought to promote. Six out of ten respondents said that politicians used scientific facts too little,” said Martin Bergman.
Almost three-quarters of the Swedish public believe it is important for the public to be involved in research. As many as one-third would personally consider actively participating in research, for example, by collecting data or donating material.
“A growing trend is involving the public in different types of collaborations with researchers. One example is citizen science, in which non-experts help to contribute to the development of new knowledge,” added Martin.
When it comes to research as a career, only one in ten young people (aged 16–29) would consider working as a researcher in the future, while just under a quarter respond ‘maybe’.
The VA Barometer has been carried out annually since 2002. The results of the VA Barometer are based on around 1,052 telephone interviews with a representative sample of the Swedish population aged 16–74 years. The interviews were carried out by market research company Exquiro.