Science communicators and scholars have struggled to understand what appears to be increasingly frequent endorsement of a wide range of anti-science beliefs and a corresponding reduction of trust in science. A common explanation for this issue is a lack of science literacy/knowledge among the general public (Funk et al. 2015). However, other possible explanations have been advanced, including conflict with alternative belief systems and other contextual factors, and even cultural factors (Gauchat 2008; Kahan 2015) that are not necessarily due to knowledge deficits. One of the challenges is that there are limited tools available to measure a range of possible underlying negative perceptions of science that could provide a more nuanced framework within which to improve communication around important scientific topics. This project describes two studies detailing the development and validation of the Negative Perceptions of Science Scale (NPSS), a multi-dimensional instrument that taps into several distinct sets of negative science perceptions: Science as Corrupt
, Science as Complex
, Science as Heretical
, and Science as Limited
. Evidence for the reliability and validity of the NPSS is described. The sub-dimensions of the NPSS are associated with a range of specific anti-science beliefs across a broad set of topic areas above and beyond that explained by demographics (including education, sex, age, and income), political, and religious ideology. Implications for these findings for improving science communication and science-related message tailoring are discussed.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited