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Nauroth, Peter; Gollwitzer, Mario ORCID: 0000-0003-4310-4793; Kozuchowski, Henrik; Bender, Jens; Rothmund, Tobias (2017): The effects of social identity threat and social identity affirmation on laypersons’ perception of scientists. In: Public Understanding of Science, Vol. 26, No. 7: pp. 754-770
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Abstract

Public debates about socio-scientific issues (e.g. climate change or violent video games) are often accompanied by attacks on the reputation of the involved scientists. Drawing on the social identity approach, we report a minimal group experiment investigating the conditions under which scientists are perceived as non-prototypical, non-reputable, and incompetent. Results show that in-group affirming and threatening scientific findings (compared to a control condition) both alter laypersons’ evaluations of the study: in-group affirming findings lead to more positive and in-group threatening findings to more negative evaluations. However, only in-group threatening findings alter laypersons’ perceptions of the scientists who published the study: scientists were perceived as less prototypical, less reputable, and less competent when their research results imply a threat to participants’ social identity compared to a non-threat condition. Our findings add to the literature on science reception research and have implications for understanding the public engagement with science.