RTTA 2/1: Public Opinion Polling

RTTA 2 leader Elizabeth Corley

RTTA 2/1 has completed two general, full-scale public opinion data collections, in 2007 and 2012. The 2007 survey was a combined random digit dialing (RDD) and listed household sample conducted May – Jul, 2007. The 2012 survey was conducted by Knowledge Networks, and it embedded experimental manipulations into a nationally representative survey.

The 2012 survey led to richer data that allowed for an expanded analysis, including:

  • the examination of different subpopulations, including those that have been traditionally underserved by science communication efforts (defined by gender, age, ethnicity, or other factors);
  • the creation of representative subsamples, each focused on a separate technology (nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and nuclear energy), that can be used to examine public opinion formation regarding nanotechnology in comparison to other technologies;
  • and, experimental manipulations embedded in the subsamples to capture a deeper understanding of the cognitive and affective processes that members of the public use to make sense of emerging technologies.

As part of the Public Opinion Polling research, the RTTA 2 team has capitalized on their experiences with some of the earliest public opinion surveys on NSE (e.g., Scheufele & Lewenstein, 2005) and have continued to develop and refine ways of measuring attitudes and values. This methodological work is a necessary condition for doing sophisticated research and it has allowed the team to assist other researchers across the globe by sharing instruments and expertise. During the past year, the RTTA 2 team has also been able to provide real-time feedback to policy makers about policy-relevant public attitudes.