26
Jan 8, 2022
Science & Education
DOI :
10.1007/s11191-021-00306-y
Article
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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.

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