VA Barometer 2021: Swedes’ confidence in researchers and research has increased

Press release 1 February 2021

Swedes’ confidence in both research and researchers has increased. Nine out of ten Swedes have high confidence in researchers, while just under half have the similar level of confidence in news journalists. These are some of the findings from this year’s annual VA Barometer conducted by the Swedish non-profit organisation VA (Public & Science).

The VA Barometer 2020/2021 was launched in Swedish at a virtual event on 14 December 2020

Researchers and journalists are among the most visible actors in the corona pandemic. In this year’s VA Barometer, almost nine out of ten (88 percent) Swedes have very or fairly high confidence in researchers at universities, an increase of nine percentage points since 2019. Just under half (45 percent) have the same amount of confidence in news journalists. Two out of three Swedes (67 percent) have very or fairly high confidence in science journalists.

“This is the second highest level of confidence in researchers that we have measured since the surveys started in 2002 and a significant increase from the slightly downward trend we have seen over the past three years,” commented Martin Bergman, the researcher at VA (Public & Science) who is responsible for the survey.

Eight out of ten Swedes say that the pandemic has not affected their confidence in researchers, nor in journalists. Thirteen percent say that they have higher confidence in researchers, whereas only 2 percent have higher confidence in journalists. On the other hand, 18 percent have lower confidence in journalists, but only 5 percent have lower confidence in researchers.

“The reasons that people give for having higher confidence in researchers is that they are competent and committed, and crucial for finding a vaccine. For those who have lower confidence in journalists, their comments often were that journalists exaggerate, scare, publish incorrect information and act for their own gain,” said Martin Bergman.

One third (32 percent) of Swedes think that research is taken into account to a reasonable extent when making political decisions in Sweden, and almost as many (30 percent) believe that too little is taken into account. When it comes to political decisions relating to Sweden’s handling of the corona pandemic, a majority (55 percent) believes that research is taken into account to a reasonable extent. Only 15 percent think that too little consideration is given.

Notes to Editors

The results of the VA Barometer are based on 1,018 telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of the Swedish population aged 16–74 years. The interviews were carried out by market research company Exquiro from 24 August to 1 October 2020.

The VA Barometer has been conducted annually since 2002.

The 2020/2021 VA Barometer is available in English along with the questions asked in the interviews.

For further information about the VA Barometer, please contact Martin Bergman, Researcher at VA.


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