Public perception of health benefits derived from organic foods is often misaligned with scientific evidence. This study aims to examine the factors affecting public perception of scientific information about organic foods.
The authors conducted multinominal and multiple linear regression analyses to examine associations between public perception of scientific information about organic foods and 19 factors using data from a descriptive survey (
Perceived benefits of organic foods, trust in scientists, communicator credibility, preexisting beliefs and events related to science (e.g. COVID-19) were significant predictors of public perception of scientific information about organic foods.
Cognitive dissonance and recreancy theoretical frameworks help describe relationships between beliefs, science, trust and risk. These theories intersect when purchasing credence goods (i.e. organic foods) whose qualities cannot be observed during or after purchase. Hence, public trust of scientific information about perceived health benefits of organic foods may conflict with strongly held beliefs that contradict scientific findings.
Scientists can more effectively share research findings after trust is established through the listening, asking and sharing values process. Therefore, by following the path of listening, asking and sharing the endogenous/exogenous factors in this study, scientists and the public can have meaningful conversations about perceived health benefits and nutritional values of organically and conventionally grown foods.
Current research on perception factors about organic foods often examined consumers' perceptions and purchase intentions but rarely considered perceptions of scientific information about organic foods. This study examined relationships between public perception of scientific information about organic foods and endogenous/exogenous factors.