Trust in the scientific community declined among U.S. adults in 2022, a large survey showed, a decline fueled by the partisan divide in views on science and medicine that has emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overall, 39% of American adults say they have “great confidence” in the scientific community, up from 48% in 2018 and 2021. That’s according to the General Social Survey, a long-form survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago that monitors the opinions of the American population on key issues. Since 1972.
Forty-eight percent of adults in the latest survey reported having “just some” confidence, while 13% reported “almost none,” according to an analysis by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Jennifer Benz, deputy director of the center, said the poll showed low levels of trust among Republicans as partisan divisions that emerged during the pandemic era persist.
“It doesn’t sound so strict when you just look at the trends for the general public,” Benz said. “But when you dig deeper into people’s political affiliations, there is a really noticeable back-and-forth and polarization.”
Between the 2018 and 2021 polls, when the pandemic hit, the trust levels of the major parties went in opposite directions. Benz added that Democrats have reported a higher level of confidence in science in 2021, possibly as a “crowd effect” around things like COVID-19 vaccines and prevention measures. At the same time, there was a breakdown in confidence among Republicans.
In the 2022 poll, Democrats’ confidence has fallen to pre-pandemic levels, with 53% reporting significant confidence compared to 55% in 2018. But Republicans’ confidence has continued its downward trend, dropping from 45% to 22% in 2018.
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