The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 629–645 | Cite as

The Public as a Limit to Technology Transfer: The Influence of Knowledge and Beliefs in Attitudes towards Biotechnology in the UK

  • Joan Costa-Font
  • Elias Mossialos


Transferring knowledge on new biotechnology applications in the European Union is restricted by limited public support. Explanations for this limited support lead us to examine the influence of knowledge and beliefs in shifting attitudes towards the uncertain consequences of unknown technologies. In addition, this paper looks at the role of perceptions of uncertainty as well as information channels. We denote as “knowledgeable” those attitudes that are held by informed individuals and as “rational irrational” those attitudes purely reflecting political and moral beliefs. The empirical analysis employs data from a UK sample of the 1999 Eurobarometer Survey 52.1. Results suggest that improving knowledge systematically raises individual support for clinical biotech applications such as animal cloning, while attitudes towards market-oriented biotech such as GM food remain systematically unaltered. When controlling for knowledge, significant factors within information channels were gender, perceptions of risk and, in certain applications, religiosity. Findings also support the hypothesis that knowledge driven attitudes arise from those applications where knowledge is shifted by perceived experience and thus perceived information costs are small.


biotechnology attitudes information acquisition knowledge and rational irrationality 

JEL Classification

D81 D84 O32 O38 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LSE Health and Social CareLondonUK
  2. 2.Departament de Teoria EconomicaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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