The survey, conducted with over 8,800 U.S. adults in late September, showed that the percentage of American adults who believe science has a “mostly positive” impact on society has dropped to 57%. This represents an 8-percentage point decrease since November 2021 and a 16-percentage point decrease since just before the pandemic.
Among respondents, more than a third believed that science has an equal mix of positive and negative impacts on society, while 8% felt it has a “mostly negative” impact.
The decline in trust in science is not uniform across the political spectrum. The survey found that Republicans expressed less confidence in scientists and the benefits of science compared to Democrats. Among Republicans, less than half (47%) believed that science has had a mostly positive impact on society, down from 70% in 2019. In contrast, 69% of Democrats still held that science has a mostly positive effect, though this figure also declined by 8 points since 2019.
Dr. Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist and anti-misinformation advocate at the University of Illinois Chicago, commented on the findings, emphasizing the presence of an information divide. She noted a consistent decline in trust in science since 2019, describing it as “stunning.”
The results of this survey highlight the importance of addressing public perceptions and trust in science, particularly during a time when scientific information and expertise play a critical role in addressing major global challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic.