Huge global survey to gauge public attitudes to science

Wellcome is funding an ambitious new global study designed to understand how people around the world think and feel about science and key health challenges.

Woman and child in Cambodia taking part in survey
The survey will ask about people’s attitudes towards science to gauge their interest in it and how much they trust it.
Credit: Gallup 2018

Beginning this spring, and throughout 2018, we will survey 140,000 people from 140 countries. The findings will be available in 2019.

The survey will ask about people’s attitudes towards science to gauge their interest in it and how much they trust it. There are also questions about specific areas of science, eg vaccines, that have universal importance and are a priority for Wellcome.

The 30 questions, which take about ten minutes to complete face to face or over the phone, are part of the 2018 Gallup World Poll.

Why Wellcome is funding this survey

The survey results will provide robust evidence on how public attitudes vary across different demographic groups and countries. This will help us to promote debate, and frame proposals for action to improve engagement and trust in science and health research.

We hope the findings will:

  • stimulate additional, often deeper and more localised research to increase understanding of public attitudes to science
  • help to improve public engagement with science in countries around the world
  • help researchers to take account of the social and cultural context of their work.

Simon Chaplin, Wellcome's Director of Culture & Society, says: "The majority of surveys exploring public attitude to science have mainly focused on high-income countries. This is the first survey that will be carried out across a diverse set of countries and cultures. We want to find out how public attitudes to science and health vary across the globe. How do different communities relate to science? Who do they feel science benefits? Do they trust scientists? How do they weight up different sources of evidence?

"We hope this in-depth study will create rich and useful data for Wellcome and the wider scientific community, that will help promote debate and improve public engagement in science and health research."

Countries where people will take part in the survey include Afghanistan, Brazil, Denmark, Liberia, Rwanda, Guatemala, Iceland, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, UAE and the USA.

We've published the Wellcome Global Monitor Questionnaire Development Report [PDF 939KB] which describes how we've worked with Gallup to develop and test the survey.

The full questionnaire will be available when we publish our findings in spring 2019.

More information