Validation and Exploration of Instruments for Assessing Public Knowledge of and Attitudes toward Nanotechnology

Shu Fen Lin, Huann shyang Lin, Yi ying Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The purposes of this study were to develop instruments that assess public knowledge of nanotechnology (PKNT), public attitudes toward nanotechnology (PANT) and conduct a pilot study for exploring the relationship between PKNT and PANT. The PKNT test was composed of six scales involving major nanotechnology concepts, including size and scale, structure of matter, size-dependent properties, forces and interactions, tools and instrumentation, as well as science, technology, and society. After item analysis, 26 multiple-choice questions were selected for the PKNT test with a KR-20 reliability of 0.91. Twenty items were developed in the PANT questionnaire which can be classified as scales of trust in government and industry, trust in scientists, and perception of benefit and risk. Cronbach alpha for the PANT questionnaire was 0.70. In a pilot study, 209 citizens, varying in age, were selected to respond to the instruments. Results indicated that about 70 % of respondents did not understand most of the six major concepts involving nanotechnology. The public tended to distrust government and industry and their levels of trust showed no relationship to their levels of knowledge about nanotechnology. However, people perceived that nanotechnology provided high benefits and high risks. Their perceptions of the benefits and risks were positively related with their knowledge level of nanotechnology. People's trust showed a negative relationship to their risk perception. Implications for using these instruments in research are discussed in this paper.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)548-559
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Science Education and Technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Aug 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)

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