Category: Trust

Resource Category Topic Type
Conservative and Liberal Views of Science
Conservative distrust of scientists regarding climate change and evolution has been widely expressed in public pronouncements and surveys, contributing to impressions that conservatives are less likely to trust scientists in general. But what about other topics, where some liberals have expressed misgivings too? Nuclear power safety, vaccinations, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are three often-mentioned examples. For this report, five similarly worded survey questions were designed to test the hypothesis that, depending on the issue, liberals are just as likely to reject science as conservatives. The five questions were included along with many unrelated items in telephone surveys of over 1,000 New Hampshire residents. As expected, liberals were most likely and conservatives least likely to say that they trust scientists for information about climate change or evolution. Contrary to the topic-bias hypothesis, however, liberals also were most likely and conservatives least likely to trust scientists for information about vaccines, nuclear power safety, and GMOs. Liberal–conservative gaps on these questions ranged from 55 points (climate change) to 24 points (nuclear power), but always in the same direction. These results pose a challenge for some common explanations of political polarization in views about science.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion, Trust Publication
Data Snapshot: Millennials and Climate Change
From more frequent flooding to heat waves and drought, adverse impacts from climate change are already being experienced. Scientists warn of worse impacts within the lifetime of many people alive today, if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced. Although majorities in all age groups recognize the reality of climate change, awareness is highest among young adults.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Environment, Trust, Young Adults Publication
Do You Trust Scientists About the Environment?
In this brief, author Lawrence Hamilton examines the results of a Granite State Poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center in late January–early February 2014. The poll asked about public trust in scientists, along with other questions on science, political, and social issues that help to place the science-trust results in perspective.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Climate Change, Environment, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion, Trust Publication
Eyes Off the Earth?
Survey researchers have observed significant political divisions in the United States with regard to public trust of science related to evolution, the environment, vaccines, genetically modified organisms, and other topics. Conservatives are less likely than moderates or liberals to say they trust scientists for information on any of these topics.1 Some of the widest divisions involve climate change, an area where the Trump administration and conservatives in Congress have proposed steep reductions in research. For example, the president’s detailed budget proposal in May 2017 calls for cuts to the Earth science and education programs of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), including termination of five Earth-viewing missions such as the DSCOVR satellite instruments which produced the image in Figure 1.2 Congressional efforts have also often targeted NASA Earth science.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Environment, Politics and Elections, Trust Publication
Teen Dating Violence in New Hampshire
Dating Violence Among High School Teens Dating violence, defined as physical abuse (such as hitting) or sexual abuse (such as forcible sexual activity) that happens within the context of a current or former relationship, leads to a host of negative consequences, including poor mental and physical health and academic difficulties.1 Therefore, it is important that researchers examine factors that increase or decrease risk for dating violence, and then use this research to create evidence-based prevention and risk reduction efforts. To date, researchers have primarily focused on individual factors (for example, attitudes toward violence) and relational factors (such as peer group norms) that may be related to dating violence victimization.2 However, it is also important to examine school and community characteristics that may serve as risk or protective factors for dating violence3 and to understand which youth may be at the highest risk for dating violence victimization. Overall Rates of Dating Violence Among Teens in New Hampshire Nearly one in ten teens (9.1 percent) in New Hampshire reported being the victim of physical dating violence during the past year; across the 71 schools studied, the range was zero to 15.0 percent. More than one in ten teens (10.9 percent) reported being the victim of sexual dating violence during the past year, and the range across schools was zero to 17.0 percent. The purpose of this study was to examine how demographic characteristics such as sexual orientation, school characteristics such as the school poverty rate, and community characteristics such as the population density of the county relate to the possibility that a New Hampshire teen will be the victim of dating violence.
New Hampshire, Vulnerable Families Research Program Health, New Hampshire, Trust, Young Adults Publication
The Zika Virus Threat
Shocking images of infants with severe birth defects in Brazil introduced the world to the devastating effects of the Zika virus. This mosquito-borne illness spread rapidly across Latin America and into the United States. News stories highlighting locally transmitted cases of Zika in Florida, and most recently in Texas, created a sense of urgency among public health officials. They stepped up efforts to inform the public about the transmission of the virus as well as the health risks associated with Zika. Public polling shows that Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about the threat of Zika, and they question the government’s ability to limit its spread.1 What is less clear are the factors influencing perceptions of the Zika pandemic and support for governmental efforts to curb the spread of the virus. Using data from the October 2016 Granite State Poll (GSP), we investigate how New Hampshire residents view the Zika crisis by asking the following questions: Is Zika perceived as a threat to public health in the United States? Does the public trust the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for information about the virus? Is the public confident that the government can control the spread of Zika? Should the U.S. Congress prioritize emergency funding to combat Zika? Finally, we explore whether the public’s increasing distrust of science and scientists may affect views about the Zika pandemic. Results indicate that most New Hampshire residents believe Zika is only a minor threat to public health in the United States, and they generally trust the CDC as a source of information about the virus. These data also show that, while there is doubt about the government’s ability to control the spread of the virus, the public feels that emergency federal funding to combat Zika should be a priority. Finally, we found that many Granite Staters have real concerns about the practice of science, believing scientists change their findings to get the answers they want. More importantly, individuals who questioned the integrity of scientists are less likely to believe Zika is a threat, have confidence in the government’s ability to combat the virus, trust the CDC, and to prioritize emergency funding. These results suggest that health officials working to engage the public in efforts to control the spread of Zika must not only discuss risks associated with the virus and mechanisms of transmission, but also confront science skepticism and potential concerns about the integrity of the scientists gathering data related to Zika and other infectious diseases.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Health, New Hampshire, Public Opinion, Trust Publication
Was December Warm?
In 2015 New Hampshire experienced its warmest December on record. The temperature exceeded twentieth century average temperatures by a wider margin than for any month in historical records dating back to 1895. In February 2016, as part of an ongoing study of environmental perceptions, the Granite State Poll asked whether residents thought that New Hampshire’s recent December had been generally colder, warmer, or about average. Only 63 percent recalled or guessed that this exceptional month had been warmer than average. Some said they did not know; others thought that December had been about average. Sixteen percent thought it had been colder than average. January, February, and March temperatures were less extreme, but each ranked among the top fifteen warmest for that month, making the 2015–2016 cold season (December through March) overall the warmest on record. In April 2016, another Granite State Poll asked whether people thought that the winter just ending had been colder, warmer, or about average. Ground bare of snow through much of the season and the early arrival of spring (both in stark contrast to the snowy winter of 2014–2015) had been widely noticed,1 and 73 percent recognized a warm winter. But who recalled the unusual season and who did not? The two surveys found no significant differences in the accuracy of responses by men and women or by age groups. Nor did temperatures on the day of interview seem to matter. Married respondents, however, and people with children at home tended to be more aware of recent warmth. Awareness also was higher among those who agree with the scientific consensus on climate change. Connections between climate-change beliefs and perceptions about weather have been observed in other studies, although not with regard to such extreme and recent local events.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Climate Change, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion, Trust Publication
Where Is the North Pole?
The north and south polar regions have been rapidly changing, affecting global weather and sea levels and sparking international concern about shipping and resources. While these global impacts occur, physical changes such as warming and less ice directly affect ecosystems and people living in polar regions. President Obama, visiting the northern Alaska town of Kotzebue in summer 2015, noted the impact of climate change on the American Arctic, where several towns may be abandoned due to rising flood risks in the next few decades, if not sooner. To explore public knowledge and perceptions about climate change, University of New Hampshire researchers conducted the first Polar, Environment, and Science (POLES) survey in August 2016. A random sample of U.S. adults were asked for their views regarding science, climate change, sources of information, current problems, and possible solutions. In addition, the survey tested basic geographical knowledge related to polar regions, such as whether the United States has a significant population living in the Arctic, and what respondents know about the location of the North Pole. Results from the survey highlight areas of knowledge, uncertainty, and division. Public views on almost everything related to climate change—acceptance of basic science observations, trusted sources of information, the seriousness of current problems, or the need for any policy response—exhibit wide differences depending on political orientation. In this election year, such divisions appear as stark contrasts between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Geographic questions that are not obviously tied to climate beliefs evoke less political division, but often reveal low levels of background knowledge.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Environment, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion, Trust Publication