While there is increasing pessimism in the rest of Europe about the potential contribution of research to our daily lives, Norwegians are more optimistic than ever, with an increase of two percentage points from 2005. The 27 EU countries experienced an average decline of 13 percentage points during the same period.
Better life and health
As many as 75% of the Norwegian respondents answered yes to the question of whether they believe that science and technology will lead to a healthier, easier and more comfortable life. Only people from the UK, Malta and Iceland have more faith in what science and technology can achieve.
The results are taken from a broadly based survey conducted by the market research group TNS on assignment for the European Commission. The survey is a follow-up of corresponding surveys carried out in 2001 and 2005.
Optimistic about the future
In the Nordic countries and the Baltic States, people are very confident that science will provide more opportunities for future generations than we have today. In Norway, as many as 86% of the population share this view.
Norwegians are also very willing to invest in scientific research that does not bring any immediate benefits to society. With a score of 87%, the Norwegian survey respondents stand out as being the most positive in Europe to government funding of basic research the effects of which are uncertain in the short term.
Far more benefits than drawbacks
The survey also registered how Europeans view the negative aspects of science and technology. When asked whether the benefits of research are greater than any of the potentially harmful effects one can think of, Norwegians also take a very positive view. With 65% of the respondents answering in the affirmative, Norway tops the list.
The faith in research and researchers is also evident from the fact that 73% of the Norwegian respondents believe that we may miss out on technological progress if we focus too much on potential risks that are not yet fully understood.
Positive starting point
Director General Arvid Hallén of the Norwegian Research Council finds the results of the survey extremely interesting. “It comes as a bit of a surprise that we clearly come out tops compared with other European countries. But first and foremost, the results show that the Norwegian population thinks along the same lines as we do,” he says.
“The great interest shown by the population should serve as a good argument in favour of an ambitious research policy in this country,” says Mr Hallén, who wants research and development to be more of a national priority in the time ahead, with more funding of both basic and applied research.