Public Trust in the Scientific Research of US Federal Agencies

We have a new article published in Public Understanding of Science: Predictors of trust in the general science and climate science research of US federal agencies.

Analyzing a nationally representative survey of Americans, our study assesses trust in the scientific research of 11 federal agencies – examining how much participants trust both the general and climate-specific scientific research that these organizations conduct. Furthermore, we investigate the relationship of participants’ characteristics such as demographics and political ideology to this trust.

Results from our study suggest two things:

  • Americans view federal science agencies as competent, trustworthy, and working for the good of the United States. Although conservatives are generally less trusting of federal science agencies than liberals, they still tend to expresses trust; even the most conservative respondents report levels of trust that are, on average, above the midpoint of the trustworthiness scale.
  • Large minorities of Americans are simply not aware enough of these science agencies to have an opinion about them.

We also tested whether having people consider an agency’s general science capabilities before considering their climate science capabilities would increase their trust in the agency’s climate science. We found that this has no effect.

The paper can be downloaded here: