605   Roundtable discussion

Public Communication of Science: trust and credibility in the eyes of the public

The results of the International CONCISE project regarding channels and sources of communication.

In this roundtable we provide and discuss an overview of the main results collected through five Public Consultations carried out within the Concise European project. 500 citizens of five different countries were involved in discussing four topics on communication: climate change, vaccines, GMO and complementary and alternative medicines.

Our primary aim is to focus on patterns of trust by which EU citizens acquire their science-related knowledge, and how this knowledge influences their beliefs, opinions, and perceptions. In so doing, we take into account the use of channels and sources proposing an analysis of how citizens believe these important elements of the public communication of science to be credible. Furthermore, we propose an analysis of the level of public engagement expressed during consultations and the development of different practices of citizens science.

We aim to provide insight into the complexity of public communication of science and technology and the social and methodological richness that it embodies by highlighting the relevant role of public opinion and public participation. To this end, we propose four dimensions by which to map this rich domain of research: actors, relationship, trust and means. Our concluding argument is that studying these dimensions by observing knowledge, beliefs, opinions and perceptions would do well to combine analytical and normative prerogatives for understanding the recent evolution of public communication of science and technology.

Author: Giuseppe Pellegrini
Observa Science in Society, Italy, Italy

Speaker: Carolina Moreno Castro
University of Valencia, Spain

One of the most relevant points of view during citizens consultations is to check if there are robust related ideological packages or strong opinions, between different topics and point of views from European citizens. For example, if citizens who show rejection of vaccines also show rejection of GMOs or if citizens who are in favour to the use of Complementary and Alternative Medicines are anti-vaccines or if those who consider climate change a problem and dangerous, they also have a strong supportive position to GMO's. For this, we have selected citizen speeches from five countries, and we have assessed whether there are relations between these topics in each of countries where they have held citizen dialogues. Finally, we are going to compare these ideological packages between the five countries to verify if the ideological packages show some differences or similarities between them.

Speaker: Ana Delicado
ICS University of Lisbon, Portugal

Currently, it is widely acknowledged that trust in scientists is key for generating and maintaining positive attitudes towards science and in the adoption of behaviours that concur with scientific advice. Science communication can play a significant role in building such trust, by bridging the gap between scientific knowledge production and the public, translating scientific language into lay language or conveying how scientific discoveries can affect the daily lives of citizens. This presentation will address the issue of trust in science communication sources. Based on the five citizen consultations of the CONCISE project, we will explore how trust in science communication is built: which kind of experts are most (and least) trusted, how citizens assess the trustworthiness of scientific information, which factors increase or decrease trust in information sources. We will make comparisons across the five participant countries, but also across the topics discussed in the consultation (climate change, GMO, vaccines and alternative medicines) and across social variables. This work will allow issuing recommendations on how to enhance citizens' trust in science communication

Speaker: Andrea Rubin
Università  di Bergamo, Italy

I would like to draw attention to several features of the Public Consultations carried out within the Concise project. I wish to clarify how different actors are considered in the discussion expecially taking into consideration the role of experts in the scientific debate regarding GMOs and Climate Change. I also will present a typology of different images of experts mentioned during the Public Consultations. The role of the experts can be considered from various points of view, in particular in terms of the transmission of knowledge and authoritativeness. During the Public Consultation numerous expectations emerged towards them. The analysis of the data has highlighted particular concepts of science and the function of the experts in the topics considered. From this perspective, points of contact and detachment of the expert's image can be noted in the two themes considered. On the other hand, the role of the experts remains a constant in the discussion regarding scientific information. Thus, it is perhaps a remarkable way to give more specific meaning to the term "experts" and underline what are the trust processes that support or criticize their function.

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