Lay beliefs about scientists’ relations with their employers

Branden B. Johnson, Nathan F. Dieckmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Lay beliefs about scientist-employer relations may affect public attitudes toward science. A representative sample of US residents characterized scientists’ relations with one of four employers: federal government agency, large business corporation, advocacy group (nonprofit seeking to influence policy), or university. Overall, they held moderate views of how much scientists and employers shared motivations, interests, and values, and of whether employers tried to change—and succeeded in changing—how scientist employees did their scientific work. Judgments differed little across employers. Best predictors of these views were belief in scientific positivism, subjective knowledge of science, and age. These findings suggest scientific authority in the United States is not immediately threatened by public beliefs that employers skew their scientific employees’ work, although that might differ for specific topics or demographic sub-groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-114
Number of pages12
JournalPublic Understanding of Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • employer relations
  • motivations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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