In April and May of 2008 we sent an online survey to scientists and graduate students at several public universities, in disciplines of biology, physics, and psychology, with the intention of gaining some initial understanding of scientists' views about the ethics of communication. The survey was designed to diagnose the sorts of communication techniques they judge effective, which of these view to be morally appropriate, their awareness of cognitive biases, and their views about the most important goals of communication. The survey was filled out in KSU's Axio system. We received 111 completed responses.
Questions were in the following categories:
- Goals of communication with the public (e.g., convey information, generate interest in science). These instruments are labeled as AIM variables.
- General communication norms (e.g., oblication to communicate results vs. work to get public to understand or agree with the results). These instruments are labeled as CN variables.
- General moral commitments (e.g., consequentialist vs. deontologist, active doing vs. letting happen). These instruments are labeled as MT variables.
- Knowledge of cognitive biases and their effects on communication. These instruments are labeled as BIAS variables.
- Views about the effectiveness of "framing" and other communication techniques. These instruments are labeled as EFF variables.
- Views about the public's perception about science and capabilities of understanding science. These instruments are labeled as AUD variables.
- Specific behaviors (e.g., if a scientist had findings like … and wanted to do .. for reason …, would it be OK for her to do so?). These instruments are labeled as BEH variables.
A printout of the survey instrument (html)