2014

Nanotechnology Awareness May Be Low, But Opinions Are Strong Regional and generational disparities in familiarity with and feelings toward nanotech are anything but small

NEW YORK, Sept. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Awareness of nanotechnology is still low, but there are some surprising differences in opinion.  Perhaps not surprisingly, reports of having heard at least a little about nanotechnology were significantly higher among all sub-65 age groups (ranging from 37% to 46%) than among those in the 65+ age group (26%).  However, those older Americans aware of nanotechnology were more optimistic about its potential, with a stronger likelihood than any other age group to indicate a belief that the potential benefits of nanotechnology outweigh the risks (58%, vs. 32%-36% among other age groups).

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100517/NY06256LOGO )

These are among the results of The Harris Poll of 2,467 U.S. adults (ages 18 and over) surveyed online between June 18 and June 25, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

There were also significant differences in nanotechnology awareness by region, with Midwesterners (44%) significantly more likely than those from other regions (East [33%], South [36%] or West [31%]) to report knowing "nothing at all" about nanotechnology (although percentages hearing at least a little were roughly equal).  There were no significant differences in the optimism/pessimism (among those aware of nanotechnology) expressed by region.

Differences also exist regarding where people have heard of nanotechnology, and in what areas people would be most interested to see it applied.  Among those who had heard at least a little about nanotechnology, the Internet was by far the most cited source of information (54%).  This was true across all age groups and most regions, with Internet sources (44%) and TV shows (45%) roughly even among Easterners. 

Older U.S. adults familiar with nanotechnology were significantly more likely than other age segments to cite television news programs (46%-52% among those 50+, vs. 26%-36% among younger groups) or newspapers (48% among those 65+, vs. 13%-22% among younger age groups), while those ages 18-29 who are familiar with nanotechnology were more likely than any other segment to have heard about nanotechnology via friends and family (36%, vs. 14%-19% among other age groups). 

Among those who have at least heard of nanotechnology, interest was strongest for seeing it applied to healthcare (with 63% selecting it as one of the areas where they would most like to see nanotechnology applied), energy production (59%), environmental clean-up (55%) and computers (54%).  Overall interest was lowest for nanotechnology applications within the clothing (12%), food (13%) and skincare (15%) fields.

Older Americans aware of nanotechnology were significantly more interested than other age groups in seeing it applied to healthcare (80%-83% among those ages 50+, vs. 42%-66% among younger groups), energy production (63%-74% among those 40+, vs. 43%-53% among those under 40), whereas younger adults familiar with nanotechnology were more interested in seeing nanotechnology applied to clothes (16%-19% among those 18-39, vs. 4%-9% among those 40+) and skincare (20% and 10%-12%, respectively) than the older groups.  The youngest age group was also significantly more likely than other groups to select "None of these" (15% among those 18-29, vs. 2%-6% among those 30+). 

Regional differences in preferred applications (again among those aware of nanotechnology) were less pronounced for most areas addressed; however, Midwesterners were significantly less interested in applying nanotechnology to food than those within the other three regions.

So What?

"Though it may initially seem counterintuitive, it actually makes sense that those aware of nanotechnology within the 65+ age group tend to believe that the benefits of nanotechnology will outweigh the risks, as the prevalence of worry in general tends to decline with age," said Dr. Kathleen Eggleson, leader of the Nano Impacts Intellectual Community at the University of Notre Dame.  "Older Americans also have firsthand experience with the emergence of many different technologies that have brought new benefits to their lives."

"These data may help stakeholders nationwide make informed decisions, plan investments, and tailor education, advocacy, and marketing efforts in the nanotechnology field," said Peter Tomanovich, Research Director, Health Care at Harris Interactive.

TABLE 1A
FAMILIARITY WITH NANOTECHNOLOGY BY REGION AND GENDER
"How much have you heard about nanotechnology?"

Base:  All adults


Total

Region

East

Midwest

South

West

%

%

%

%

%

HAVE HEARD AT LEAST A LITTLE (NET)

38

38

36

38

41

     A lot

5

5

5

6

5

     Some

12

14

11

12

14

     A little

21

20

20

21

22

Know the term, but that is all

26

29

20

25

28

Nothing at all

36

33

44

36

31

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 1B
FAMILIARITY WITH NANOTECHNOLOGY BY AGE
"How much have you heard about nanotechnology?"

Base:  All adults


Total

Age

18-29

30-39

40-49

50-64

65+

%

%

%

%

%

%

HAVE HEARD AT LEAST A LITTLE (NET)

38

44

46

39

37

26

     A lot

5

6

28

5

4

3

     Some

12

12

12

14

14

8

     A little

21

26

27

20

19

14

Know the term, but that is all

26

28

20

26

26

27

Nothing at all

36

27

34

35

37

47

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 2A
NANOTECHNOLOGY AWARENESS SOURCES BY REGION
"Where did you hear about nanotechnology?"

Base:  Have heard at least a little about nanotechnology


Total

Region

East

Midwest

South

West

%

%

%

%

%

Internet sources

54

44

51

56

62

TV shows

40

45

32

40

40

Television news programs

37

32

37

38

38

Magazine

30

32

22

29

37

Newspapers

22

24

22

16

26

Friends and family

21

20

21

22

19

Professional journal

15

14

15

13

18

Radio

14

11

15

14

15

Someplace else

16

16

14

17

15

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.


TABLE 2B
NANOTECHNOLOGY AWARENESS SOURCES BY AGE
"Where did you hear about nanotechnology?"

Base:  Have heard at least a little about nanotechnology


Total

Age

18-29

30-39

40-49

50-64

65+

%

%

%

%

%

%

Internet sources

54

50

58

54

52

58

TV shows

40

33

38

42

48

36

Television news programs

37

26

30

36

46

52

Magazine

30

29

31

28

30

35

Newspapers

22

13

18

19

22

48

Friends and family

21

36

19

14

14

15

Professional journal

15

14

18

10

14

21

Radio

14

18

16

15

9

8

Someplace else

16

21

15

15

14

12

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 3A
NANOTECHNOLOGY RISKS VS. BENEFITS BY REGION
"Based on what you know, how would you describe the relative risks and benefits of nanotechnology?"

Base:  Have heard at least a little about nanotechnology


Total

Region

East

(a)

Midwest

(b)

South

(c)

West

(d)

%

%

%

%

%

Risks outweigh the benefits

6

6

9

5

5

Risks and benefits are about equal

27

27

25

26

29

Benefits outweigh the risks

37

39

35

36

40

Not at all sure

30

27

32

32

26

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 3B
NANOTECHNOLOGY RISKS VS. BENEFITS BY AGE
"Based on what you know, how would you describe the relative risks and benefits of nanotechnology?"

Base:  Have heard at least a little about nanotechnology


Total

Age

18-29

30-39

40-49

50-64

65+

%

%

%

%

%

%

Risks outweigh the benefits

6

8

9

9

2

1

Risks and benefits are about equal

27

24

29

29

29

20

Benefits outweigh the risks

37

32

34

36

36

58

Not at all sure

30

35

28

26

32

22

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.


TABLE 4A
AREAS MOST INTERESTED IN SEEING NANOTECHNOLOGY APPLIED BY REGION
"In what areas would you be most interested in seeing nanotechnology applied?"

Base:  Have heard at least a little about nanotechnology


Total

Region

East

(a)

Midwest

(b)

South

(c)

West

(d)

%

%

%

%

%

Healthcare

63

63

56

66

65

Energy production

59

58

57

58

63

Environmental clean-up

55

58

49

52

61

Computers

54

57

50

57

51

Telecommunications

42

40

39

45

43

Skincare

15

16

11

16

16

Food

13

15

6

14

16

Clothes

12

11

8

16

10

None of these

7

5

8

10

5

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 4B
AREAS MOST INTERESTED IN SEEING NANOTECHNOLOGY APPLIED BY AGE
"In what areas would you be most interested in seeing nanotechnology applied?"

Base:  Have heard at least a little about nanotechnology


Total

Age

18-29

30-39

40-49

50-64

65+

%

%

%

%

%

%

Healthcare

63

42

55

66

80

83

Energy production

59

43

53

63

74

66

Environmental clean-up

55

44

51

54

67

62

Computers

54

52

53

53

58

54

Telecommunications

42

31

43

47

46

49

Skincare

15

20

20

10

10

12

Food

13

17

18

9

10

14

Clothes

12

19

16

9

7

4

None of these

7

15

6

6

3

2

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between June 18 and 25, 2012 among 2,467 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

[J41827

Q905, 910, 915, 920

The Harris Poll® #52, September 6, 2012

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client's research investment. Serving clients in more than 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive
212-539-9600
press@harrisinteractive.net

SOURCE Harris Interactive



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