If scientists want the public to trust their research suggestions, they may want to appear a bit “warmer,” according to a new review published by Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
The review, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(PNAS), shows that while Americans view scientists as competent, they are not entirely trusted. This may be because they are not perceived to be friendly or warm.
In particular, Americans seem wary of researchers seeking grant funding and do not trust scientists pushing persuasive agendas. Instead, the public leans toward impartiality.
"Scientists have earned the respect of Americans but not necessarily their trust," said lead author Susan Fiske, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology and professor of public affairs. “But this gap can be filled by showing concern for humanity and the environment. Rather than persuading, scientists may better serve citizens by discussing, teaching and sharing information to convey trustworthy intentions.”