Journal of Nanoparticle Research

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 11-20

First online:

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

Risk perceptions starting to shift? U.S. citizens are forming opinions about nanotechnology

  • Susanna PriestAffiliated withUniversity of Nevada Email author 
  • , Ted GreenhalghAffiliated withUniversity of Nevada
  • , Victoria KramerAffiliated withUniversity of South Carolina


This article presents early results from an opinion formation study based on a 76-member panel of U.S. citizens, with comparison data from a group of 177 nanotechnology experts. While initially similar to the expert group in terms of their perceptions of the risks, benefits, and need for regulation characterizing several forms of nanotechnology, the first follow-up survey indicates that the panel is beginning to diverge from the experts, particularly with respect to perceptions of the levels of various “societal” risks that nanotechnology might present. The data suggest that responding to public concerns may involve more than attention to physical risks in areas such as health and environment; concerns about other forms of risk actually appear more salient.


Risk perception Benefit perception Need for regulation Opinion formation Panel study Nanotechnology Nanoscience Nanoengineering Societal implications