Ethics, Risk and Benefits Associated with Different Applications of Nanotechnology: a Comparison of Expert and Consumer Perceptions of Drivers of Societal Acceptance

N. Gupta, A.R.H. Fischer, L.J. Frewer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Examining those risk and benefit perceptions utilised in the formation of attitudes and opinions about emerging technologies such as nanotechnology can be useful for both industry and policy makers involved in their development, implementation and regulation. A broad range of different socio-psychological and affective factors may influence consumer responses to different applications of nanotechnology, including ethical concerns. A useful approach to identifying relevant consumer concerns and innovation priorities is to develop predictive constructs which can be used to differentiate applications of nanotechnology in a way which is meaningful to consumers. This requires elicitation of attitudinal constructs from consumers, rather than measuring attitudes assumed to be important by the researcher. Psychological factors influencing societal responses to 15 applications of nanotechnology drawn from different application areas (e.g. medicine,agriculture and environment, food, military, sports, and cosmetics) were identified using repertory grid method in conjunction with generalised Procrustes analysis. The results suggested that people differentiate nanotechnology applications based on the extent to which they perceive them to be beneficial, useful,necessary and important. The benefits may be offset by perceived risks focusing on fear and ethical concerns. Compared to an earlier expert study on societal acceptance of nanotechnology, consumers emphasised ethical issues compared to experts but had less concern regarding potential physical contact with the product and time to market introduction. Consumers envisaged fewer issues with several applications compared to experts, in particular food applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-108
JournalNanoEthics
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • repertory grid methodology
  • food-production
  • united-states
  • public acceptance
  • gm foods
  • attitudes
  • trust
  • technologies
  • knowledge
  • science

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