Journal of Nanoparticle Research

, Volume 11, Issue 7, pp 1555-1571

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The slings and arrows of communication on nanotechnology

  • Johannes SimonsAffiliated withInstitute for Food and Resource Economics, University Bonn Email author 
  • , René ZimmerAffiliated withFederal Institute for Risk Assessment
  • , Carl VierboomAffiliated withVierboom & Härlen Wirtschaftspsychologen
  • , Ingo HärlenAffiliated withVierboom & Härlen Wirtschaftspsychologen
  • , Rolf HertelAffiliated withFederal Institute for Risk Assessment
  • , Gaby-Fleur BölAffiliated withFederal Institute for Risk Assessment


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.


Nanotechnology Risk perception Risk communication Technology acceptance