A new public survey mapping EU citizens’ attitudes towards science and technology shows strong support for research and innovation but also concerns over the negative impact of new technologies to human health and the environment.
This special Eurobarometer survey focussing on ‘Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), Science and Technology’ builds on a previous survey in 2010 on EU citizens’ views on science, technology and research. It is based on interviews of 27,563 respondents across the EU who were asked about their level of interest and knowledge of science and technology and about the influence of science and technology on society and quality of life. The respondents were also asked to give their views on the role of ethics and ethical behaviour in research, the involvement of young people in science, and gender issues.
The survey reveals that the vast majority of Europeans (77%) think that science and technology has a positive influence on society, but they want research and innovation to be carried out with due attention to ethical principles (76%) and gender balance (84%). The survey also shows considerable levels of concern over unforeseen negative side-effects of science and technology on health, environment and security.
A vast majority of respondents (84%) think that scientific education is important in stimulating creative thinking in young people, although the majority (65%) also think that governments are not doing enough to get young people interested in science.
The findings of the survey are of relevance to Horizon 2020 in that ‘Responsible Research and Innovation’ (RRI) is a cross-cutting aspect of the new programme. Horizon 2020 has a dedicated budget for ‘Science with and for Society’ activities but projects in other areas are also expected to demonstrate that the values and concerns of EU citizens are appropriately addressed throughout the research and innovation process.