Scientists’ and the Publics’ Views of Synthetic Biology

Emily L. Howell, Dietram A. Scheufele, Dominique Brossard, Michael A. Xenos, Seokbeom Kwon, Jan Youtie, Philip Shapira

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines similarities and differences between scientists’ and nonscientists’ views of synthetic biology and the factors that shape them, as well as limitations of available research and the need for more focus on the views of both groups. We combine data from a survey of researchers in synthetic biology and a nationally representative survey of US adults on synthetic biology to compare the characteristics of respondents in each group and how those general characteristics could shape each group’s views. Our analyses found substantial religious and ideological differences between experts and members of the public in the US. We also found that levels of religious guidance and political ideology relate to different perceptions of synthetic biology and in different ways depending on one’s experience as either a researcher in the field or as a member of the public. We call for more, and more detailed, social science research to facilitate effective public engagement that creates
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSynthetic Biology 2020
Subtitle of host publicationFrontiers in Risk Analysis and Governance
EditorsBenjamin D. Trump, Christopher L. Cummings, Jennifer Kuzma, Igor Linkov
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783030272647
ISBN (Print)9783030272630
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameRisk, Systems and Decisions


  • Scientists
  • Publics
  • Views
  • Synthetic biology

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Biotechnology
  • Policy@Manchester
  • Manchester Institute of Biotechnology
  • Manchester Institute of Innovation Research


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