UK public attitudes to science

Public Attitudes to Science 2019 (PAS 2019) is the sixth survey in a series of studies tracking attitudes to science, scientists and science policy among the UK public. The study was conducted by Kantar, on behalf of the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The study shows that over time the public is becoming more comfortable with the pace of scientific change and now finds science more accessible than ever:

  • More than one in four (27%) agree that science makes our way of life change too fast, down from half (52%) in 1996
  • 51% feel very or fairly well informed about science, up from 45% in 2014
  • 47% think science is too specialised for most people to understand, down from 55% in 2014

Careers in science and engineering were regarded as interesting, future-focused and accessible to both genders. Furthermore, science and computer science were regarded as important skills to equip young people for the future (80% and 88% respectively), and to help drive economic growth in the UK (75%). However, young people aged 16-24 stood out as being more negative than older groups about science and engineering study and careers.

For the first time in the series the study also examined public attitudes towards the following four emerging areas of science and technology – two of which relate to Grand Challenges set out by the Government as part of their Industrial Strategy :

  • Ageing society
  • Artificial intelligence, robots and data
  • Genome editing
  • Micro-pollution and plastics


Literature Review

As part of the wider Public Attitudes to Science work, Dr Kevin Burchell conducted a literature review which comprised an independent review and synthesis of existing literature, primarily since 2010.

Social media analysis

A series of standalone reports have been created covering the findings of the social listening.

Digital dialogues