Facts & Figures: Trust in Science in the Netherlands

The Rathenau Instituut regularly conducts surveys of the public’s trust in science. The current publication presents the results of the 2015 survey and compares them with international results.

In the year 2015, the Dutch public continues to place great trust in science. Of the eight institutions they were asked to grade, the public awarded the scientific community the highest score. The results in some of our neighbouring countries reveal that this trust is not something to be taken for granted. Some countries have considerably lower scores, but others have even more trust in science. However, this trust is not unconditional.

Scientists enjoy less trust once they are involved with parties such as the government or the industry. The public considers the independent position of scientists to be of the utmost importance. Scientists’ roles in controversial issues are not always appreciated and can result in an immediate turn in public opinion. The respondent’s level of education also influences the degree of trust in science; highly educated people have much more trust than the less educated.

Trust in science is influenced by the public’s perception of what science is and what it means to them. On the whole, this perception is positive. We also asked the respondents what subjects they thought the scientific community should engage with in the future and the answers were clear. Issues related to public health were the most important. The social sciences and humanities, however, shared second place with the natural sciences and technology.