1990. Daamen et. al. "Cognitive Structures in the Perception of Modern Technologies"


ARTICLE ABSTRACT: Results of two survey studies (N = 197 and N = 2037) are presented. It is shown that attitudes of the public about "technology in general" are not stable and can easily be affected by how the subject is introduced. Eight areas of technology are compared on the basis of empirical relations in attitudinal judgments, in attribute ratings, in self- assigned importance weights of attributes, and in importance of reference groups and persons. On the basis of similarities in these four kinds of judgments, three clusters of technology areas were identified: (1) a cluster of modern reproductive technologies, (2) an information cluster containing automation, computer, and communication technologies, and (3) a cluster containing nuclear energy and military technology. The attitude toward "technology in general" can not be considered as an aggregation of attitudes toward these areas of technology: The relations between general attitude and specific attitudes are only moderate to negligible.


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Contributed date

May 23, 2018 - 10:02pm

Critical Commentary

The authors use surveys to assess how the global public understands, categorizes, and judges different technologies. They use this data to argue against the existence of a stable public sentiment on "technology in general." Instead they use statistical correlations in responses to suggest a cognitive structure in the perception of modern technologies. According to the authors, the public's responses support a "three-cluster model" that consists of a nuclear energy and military technology cluster; an automation, communication, and computer technologies cluster; and an in vitro fertilization and genetic engineering cluster.



Cite as

Dancker D. L. Daamen, Ivo A. Van der Lans and Cees J. H. Midden, " 1990. Daamen et. al. "Cognitive Structures in the Perception of Modern Technologies"", contributed by James Adams, STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 7 June 2018, accessed 29 January 2022.