This study examines the relationship between trust and public attitudes towards new technologies in Australia. Using data from the 2003 and 2004 Swinburne National Technology and Society Monitors, we ask: does the trustworthiness of the key institutions and people behind new technologies have an impact on how comfortable people are with new technologies?
Our analysis shows that, for the majority of Australians, levels of trust in science are predictive of levels of comfort with new technologies, and the relationship is particularly strong for biological technologies, including stem cell research. We also found a positive relationship for the majority of respondents between trust in government, business and media and comfort with technologies. We expected that Australians would be more trusting of public than private institutions, and that their levels of trust in institutions might vary across different demographic groups, in particular gender, religiosity, and occupational category. We found evidence to support these expectations.
Australian Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society 2004