, Volume 11, Issue 7, pp 1555-1571,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 20 May 2009

The slings and arrows of communication on nanotechnology

Abstract

According to numerous surveys the perceived risk of nanotechnology is low and most people feel that the benefits outweigh the risks. This article provides greater insight into risk perception and concludes that the positive attitude to nanotechnology is based not on knowledge but on hope and fascination. The perceived risk is low because of a lack of vivid and frightening images of possible hazards. If news flashes were to link nanotechnology to concrete hazards or actual harm to people, attitudes might suddenly change. Risk communication faces the problem of dealing with a public at large that has little or no knowledge about the technology. As it takes time and extensive additional research to develop appropriate communication strategies and disseminate them to the relevant institutions, this exercise should be started immediately.