Are our students really interested in Science? Or does Google Trends show a socially desirability bias in Brazilian public opinion surveys?

Renato P. dos Santos


Discovering public understanding of science allows both to formulate public policies and to understand the acceptance of technological innovations, as to improve ways of Science popularizing & teaching and to understand the reasons that lead young people to choose or not scientific careers. People do like Science and Technology but are happy enough not to know very much about it, even at the risk of a huge price tag for the ordinary citizen. General public opinion surveys on interest in Science in Brazil intended measuring public interest in predefined topics previously selected by experts using “forced-choice” questions. However, this methodology is subject to a “socially desirability bias” that may lead respondents to inform a preference for more "socially desirable" responses to certain sensitive issues. Conversely, there is evidence that the same respondents feel at ease in the privacy of their Internet searches. In this paper, Google Trends was employed as a non-survey-based methodology to verify if those results on public opinion surveys on interest in Science and Technology in Brazil have been overestimated. Combined methodologies of search engine data with other forms of inquiry may be more suited “to the analysis of our fast-moving technological and socio-political context.” If significant portions of the population are reluctant to disclose views which could be construed as socially unacceptable, such polls may overestimate the true levels of support for public policies in Science & Technology, with immediate impact on Science education.


Science education; interest in Science; Google Trends; public opinion surveys; socially desirability bias

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Direitos autorais 2016 Renato P. dos Santos

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Esta obra está licenciada sob uma licença Creative Commons Atribuição 4.0 Internacional.


Conceito A2 na Capes(2021)

Índice h5 do Google Scholar: 13
Índice mediana h5 do Google Scholar:24

eISSN: 2178-7727


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