Technology and trust: Public perceptions of technological change in Australia

Michael Gilding, Christine Critchley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines how comfortable Australians are in relation to the rate of technological change; how comfortable they are about different technologies; and how much they trust different institutions, organisations and groups in relation to information about technological change. It finds that Australians are mostly comfortable about the rate of technological change. There is no evidence of a deep chasm between science and public awareness , as suggested by some observers in relation to western societies. In particular, Australians trust CSIRO, universities, hospitals and scientists for information about new technologies. Apart from age, trust in these groups is the best predictor for feeling comfortable about new technologies. By the same token, there is some evidence of ambivalence, uncertainty, division and possible volatility in relation to public perceptions of technological change. In particular, most Australians are uncomfortable in relation to genetic engineering technologies; some Australians (especially those who are older, and those who have a religious affiliation) are less comfortable with new technologies than others; and most Australians do not trust key institutions such as government, major companies or the media for information about new technologies. Replications of the study in future years will provide an opportunity to explore the robustness of Australians comfort with technological change, or conversely the volatility of their perceptions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-69
Number of pages17
JournalAustralian Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


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