VA Barometer 2022: Swedes’ confidence in researchers higher than ever before

Press release 27 January 2022

Never before have so many Swedes had such high confidence in researchers at universities. This is one of the findings of this year’s VA Barometer, conducted by the Swedish non-profit organisation VA (Public & Science). It is the 20th Barometer since it was first conducted in 2002.

“Swedes’ confidence in researchers at universities has been high for long time and has grown stronger over the past two years. This year, the proportion who respond that they have a very high confidence is larger than ever before,” said Martin Bergman, a researcher at VA (Public & Science), who is responsible for the VA Barometer.

This year’s survey also shows that Swedes who have family members, relatives or close friends that work in research are more interested in research, consumer more research news, and are more likely to consider working as a researcher than those that don’t know someone who works in research.  It is a pattern that is visible both among people who have, and who do not have, a university education.

“We usually see that a person’s level of education greatly affects their interest in research, but knowing someone close to them who works in research is also an important factor. One possible explanation is that you get a more nuanced picture of what research is and how research is done,” commented Martin Bergman.

Medicine is of most interest

Significantly more men (64%) than women (33%) say that they are fairly or very interested in research in technology, while more women than men say that they are interested in research in medicine, the natural sciences, social sciences, the humanities and education science. Medicine is the research subject that most people are interested in.

Six out of ten respondents (63%) consume research news on a weekly basis, a clear increase from when the question was last asked in 2019 (when the corresponding proportion was 53%). This change is seen mainly among people without a university education.

“Here we think that we are seeing an effect of the pandemic as many of us have been following news about research more intensively in the last couple years,” said Martin Bergman.

Podcasts have become an increasingly common channel for accessing news about research; 36 percent say that they consume research and science news via podcasts. In 2019, the proportion was 28 percent and in 2015, 15 percent.

Both young and old can imagine doing research

Just under one in four people (23%) aged 16–29 responded that they would want to work as researchers in the future, as did just over a quarter (27%) of those aged 60–65.

“It is interesting that there is such a small difference between the age groups. Research as a career choice seems to appeal to older people just as much as younger ones,” said Martin Bergman.

Further information

The results of the VA Barometer are based on 1,016 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 August to October 2021.

The VA Barometer has been conducted annually since 2002.

The 2021/2022 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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