Socioscientific Issues Thinking and Action in the Midst of Science-in-the-Making.
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Like all SSI, the COVID-19 pandemic requires decisions that are contentious, involve scientific thinking, and vary across social groups. This investigation determined how perceptions about COVID-19 science and sociocultural membership associate with 557 university biology students': (1) COVID-19 behaviors after stay-at-home orders and (2) support for future societal COVID-19 responses. Hierarchical moderated multiple regression analyses demonstrate that students' COVID-19 mitigating actions after stay-at-home orders were significantly and positively associated with, in order of importance: (1) higher levels of COVID-19 spread prevention knowledge; (2) espousing more liberal, as opposed to conservative, political orientations; (3) being female; and (4) increased disbelief of COVID-19 misinformation/disinformation claims. Furthermore, the students' political orientation moderated the relationship between their trust in scientific models to guide COVID-19 decisions and their personal COVID-19 actions, with trust in scientific models to guide COVID-19 decision-making being a significant positive predictor of moderate, conservative, and very conservative student groups' COVID-19 mitigating actions. Conversely, there was no association between trust in scientific models to guide COVID-19 decision-making and very liberal and liberal students' conducting COVID-19 actions. Hierarchical moderated multiple regression analyses revealed that students' support for societal-wide COVID-19 mitigating measures going forward is positively associated with, in order of importance: (1) espousing more liberal, as opposed to conservative, political orientations; (2) higher levels of COVID-19 spread prevention knowledge; (3) increased disbelief of COVID-19 misinformation/disinformation claims; (4) trust in scientific models for guiding COVID-19 decision-making; and (5) beliefs that factors beyond science and technology (e.g., personal actions) are necessary for pandemic resolution. Implications discussed include the importance for helping students analyze how sociocultural membership, personal biases, and trust in science interactively influence socioscientific decision-making. Further recommendations discussed include how science communication strategies must account for sociocultural variance in order to optimize trust in science and reasoned and responsible action.
author list (cited authors)
Herman, B. C., Clough, M. P., & Rao, A.
complete list of authors
Herman, Benjamin C||Clough, Michael P||Rao, Asha