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What drives public acceptance of nanotechnology?

How do the risks and benefits of nanotechnology, as viewed by the public, compare with those associated with other technologies such as genetically modified organisms, stem cells, biotechnology and nuclear power? And when deciding to use a specific nanotechnology product, will consumers consider the risks, the benefits, or both? We report the first large-scale empirical analyses of these questions.

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Figure 1: Perceived risks and benefits of nanotechnology and 43 other technologies, based on 503 responses to a national telephone survey.
Figure 2: Likelihood of people using a nanotechnology product for four combinations of risk and benefit, based on the combined averages from 4,542 responses to a national web survey and 501 responses to a national telephone survey.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported in part by the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Initiative of the National Science Foundation under NSF Award Number EEC-0118007 and by NSF Award Number SES-0531146, and the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology at Rice University. We thank the following for assistance and feedback: W. Adams, S. Baggett, A. Barron, D. Beal, V. Colvin, M. Darby, K. Kulinowski, C. Merzbacher, M. Rohrbaugh, J. Tour, J. West, M. Wiesner and L. Zucker. The authors have no affiliation with the Wilson International Center for Scholars nor do the authors have commercial relationships, or conflicts of interest, that affected this research. No corporation influenced the design or execution of our studies.

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Correspondence to Steven C. Currall.

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Currall, S., King, E., Lane, N. et al. What drives public acceptance of nanotechnology?. Nature Nanotech 1, 153–155 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2006.155

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