Opposing ends of the spectrum: Exploring trust in scientific and religious authorities

Michael A. Cacciatore, Nick Browning, Dietram A. Scheufele, Dominique Brossard, Michael A. Xenos, Elizabeth A. Corley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    35 Scopus citations


    Given the ethical questions that surround emerging science, this study is interested in studying public trust in scientific and religious authorities for information about the risks and benefits of science. Using data from a nationally representative survey of American adults, we employ regression analysis to better understand the relationships between several variables—including values, knowledge, and media attention—and trust in religious organizations and scientific institutions. We found that Evangelical Christians are generally more trusting of religious authority figures to tell the truth about the risks and benefits of science and technology, and only slightly less likely than non-Evangelicals to trust scientific authorities for the same information. We also found that many Evangelicals use mediated information and science knowledge differently than non-Evangelicals, with both increased knowledge and attention to scientific media having positive impacts on trust in scientific authorities among the latter, but not the former group.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)11-28
    Number of pages18
    JournalPublic Understanding of Science
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


    • media and science
    • public understanding of science
    • science and religion

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Communication
    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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