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International analysis of the factors influencing the perception of nanotechnology

While the relevance of nano-products for consumers is increasing, the level of knowledge among the general public concerning its application and potential impact remains relatively low. Yet, the public values the opportunities of the technology currently higher than the potential risks. These estimates, however, are not very stable and appear to change significantly with growing experience of nano-products and increasing information about nanotechnology. Against this background, the project aims to enhance the competence of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in the field of nanotechnologies and related risk analysis and risk communication at national and international level. By conducting an international comparative study to examine the perception of nanotechnologies as well as a representative survey within Germany, which was an advancement and continuation of a 2007 survey, probable perceptional changes concerning nanotechnologies were identified. Moreover, it was examined which factors influenced public perceptions and attitudes and thus were responsible for eventual changes. The empirical results were the basis for the development of two targetgroup-oriented risk communication concepts, which, in the course of focus groups with consumers, were reviewed and refined. As a central communication measure for both concepts it is recommended to establish a web portal for guidance.

IÖW Project Team