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Science barometer special edition on Corona

How important are research results for people in times of the Corona pandemic? According to the public, what role should science play in politics when dealing with Corona? Do citizens feel well informed about Corona? The science barometer Corona special edition provides representative data on these questions.

In 2014, Wissenschaft im Dialog established the science barometer and since then has gathered and published annual data on public attitudes towards science and research in Germany. The present survey investigating public opinion against the background of the Corona pandemic is the first special edition of the science barometer. A first survey was carried out in April 2020. A new survey was conducted in May 2020 on selected questions.

Survey in May 2020

The confidence of the German population in science and research remains high. This shows in the results of the renewed survey of the science barometer Corona special edition, which was carried out on May 25 and 26, 2020. 

66 per cent of respondents state that they trust science and research. This value is slightly lower than that of the April 2020 survey, when 73 per cent of respondents expressed their trust in science and research. However, it remains significantly higher than the values in previous years. In the science barometer surveys of 2017, 2018 and 2019, about half of the respondents stated that they trust science and research. 

The majority of respondents continue to support a science-based policy in dealing with Corona. However, a slight decline in approval ratings can be observed here as well. In mid-April, 81 per cent of those surveyed agreed that political decisions in dealing with Corona should be based on scientific knowledge, compared to 73 per cent in May 2020. In May, as in April, slightly more than half of respondents are of the opinion, that scientists who are currently commenting on Corona make a clear distinction between secured knowledge and open questions. The portion of those who disagree with this statement rose slightly.

Survey in April 2020

Trust in Science and Research

The overall level of trust in science and research has risen significantly against the background of the Corona pandemic. Almost three quarters of respondents state that they somewhat or completely trust science and research. In past years, around half of respondents said so. In the current survey, considerably fewer people than in previous years show themselves undecided regarding their trust in science and research. Doctors and medical staff in particular enjoy a great degree of trust – 79 per cent of interviewees somewhat or completely trust their statements on Corona. More than 70 per cent do so for statements made by scientists.

Appreciation of scientific expertise and expectations from research

Respondents hold the expertise of researchers in the Corona crisis in high esteem: 89 per cent consider scientific knowledge important to slow the spreading of the Corona pandemic in Germany. 61 per cent expect that researchers will succeed in developing vaccines or medication in the foreseeable future. A good third of respondents believe that science and research do not yet properly understand the coronavirus.

Scientific findings and political decisions

Political decisions on handling Corona should be based on scientific evidence: 81 per cent of respondents somewhat or completely agree with this statement. Concerning public opinion on whether scientists should get involved in politics, the science barometer Corona special edition provides mixed evidence: 39 per cent of respondents consider this part of what science should do, 26 per cent are undecided and 32 per cent think that scientists should not interfere with politics.

Most important source of information: the traditional media

More than three quarters of the German public feel well informed about Corona. Most citizens get their information on new developments in science and research on Corona from traditional media outlets: Two thirds of the population do so via television often or very often. This is coherent with findings from previous editions of the science barometer according to which television is the most important source of information on science and research. Nearly half of respondents often or very often turn to newspapers and magazines for information, 43 per cent to the radio. A little less than 40 per cent often or very often use social media for information. This particularly applies to younger people.

Overview of results

Downloads

Survey in Mai 2020

Questionnaire science barometer Corona special edition (pdf)

Survey in April 2020

Questionnaire science barometer Corona special edition (pdf)

Single charts in png-format

You can use the results if you give appropriate credit to the source Wissenschaft im Dialog/Kantar. The charts are under the CC BY-ND 4.0 licence, format modifications for editorial purposes are allowed.

Source: Wissenschaft im Dialog/Kantar, CC BY-ND 4.0

Survey in May 2020

Trust in science and research (pdf)

Role of science/ researchers in political decision making on Corona and Communication of uncertainties regarding Corona (pdf)

Survey in April 2020

Information on Corona and measures against Corona

Sources of information about science and research on Corona

Trust in science and research

Trust in statements on Corona by different actors

Evaluation of scientific expertise on Corona

Role of science/ researchers in political decision making on Corona

Communication of uncertainties, controversies and complexity regarding Corona

Representative population survey

The science barometer on Corona is a special edition of the science barometer annually published by Wissenschaft im Dialog. The representative population survey gathers and publishes annual data on public attitudes towards science and research in Germany. The results of the science barometer Corona special edition are based on 1,009 telephone interviews (dual frame of landlines/mobile phones, 80:20) which were conducted on 15 and 16 April 2020 by Kantar on behalf of Wissenschaft im Dialog. The analysed population were German-speaking residents aged over 14 years. While in English the term ‘science’ is mostly used to refer to natural sciences, the German term ‘Wissenschaft’ refers to natural sciences as well as humanities and social sciences. The results presented here therefore apply for all fields of academic research (this was also stated in a short clarification by the interviewer at the beginning of the interview). The science barometer Corona special edition is a Wissenschaft im Dialog project. It is funded and supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung and by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

  

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