The 2008 Swinburne National Technology and Society Monitor


Social Psychology Research Unit

Available versions


We are living during a time of rapid technological change. Emerging technologies---notably information and life science technologies---have profound social, political, psychological and ethical implications. Public perceptions of emerging technologies are potentially volatile. The Swinburne National Technology and Society Monitor was developed in 2003 at Swinburne University of Technology. It involves a representative nationwide survey of Australians, and provides an annual ‘snapshot’ of public perceptions regarding new technologies in Australia. The 2008 Monitor is the sixth edition of the Swinburne National Technology and Society Monitor. It provides a general account of public perceptions about new technologies in Australia, including trust in institutions that provide information about new technologies. The 2008 survey included 1000 respondents. Participants in the national survey were asked how comfortable they were with the current rate of technological change; how comfortable they were in relation to various technologies; the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with statements about the value of science and technology, and their beliefs as to the amount of control science should have over nature; and how much they trusted various institutions, organisations and groups for information about new technologies. Key findings were: 1. Australians are comfortable with the rate of technological change in general, but the degree of comfort varies for specific technologies; 2. Australians are much more comfortable with having wind farms than with having nuclear power plants in Australia; 3. Australians are moderately comfortable with the possibility of clean coal but less comfortable with the Government’s proposed carbon emissions trading scheme; 4. While the degree of comfort with genetically modified (GM) plants and animals for food is relatively low, Australians remain more comfortable with GM plants for food than with GM animals for food; 5. Australians trust scientific institutions and the non-commercial media for information about new technologies. They do not trust government institutions, major companies or the churches. They have the least trust in the commercial media; and 6. Australians report high levels of trust in medical doctors but lower levels of trust in mental health professionals.

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Publication type

Research report


Swinburne National Technology and Society Monitor


Swinburne University of Technology


Copyright © 2008 Social Psychology Research Unit.

Additional information

There are two supplementary reports to this document. The first compares 2007 and 2008 attitudes to medical trust (, and the second compares 2007 and 2008 attitudes to clean energy (