News Release

Majority of American adults hold positive view of science and scientists

Confidence in scientists grew from 2016 - 2020

PPS-8 Survey Responses

How often U.S. adults thought about the impact of science on their everyday lives, 2019 vs 2020 (Credit and Larger Version)

May 5, 2022


Researchers have measured Americans’ understanding of S&T for decades and have noted a pattern of positive perceptions of science and scientists over time. Science and Technology: Public Perceptions, Awareness, and Information Sources shows that in 2016 21% of adult Americans reported a “great deal” of confidence in scientists generally. In 2020, following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 39% of respondents reported such confidence.   

Published today by the National Science Board (NSB), the report provides data on public perceptions of science and technology (S&T), public familiarity with the scientific research process, and American adults’ exposure to sources of science information and their involvement in scientific activities.

The new report is part of the 2022 edition of the congressionally mandated Science and Engineering Indicators report on the state of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise and is prepared by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics under NSB guidance.

“We must deliver benefits from research to society – and public trust in science and scientists are key measures of our progress,” says NSB Science and Engineering Policy Committee Vice Chair Maureen Condic. “The rapid development of vaccines in response to the global pandemic was built on decades of research and is a profound example of what science and technology can deliver for humanity.” 

Other findings:

  • The majority of Americans surveyed (56%) reported having sought information on science in the last 30 days in 2018; this is higher than most other countries with similar levels of science investment.
  • Households with greater parent educational attainment or income report more science activity exposure.


About Science and Engineering Indicators
Science and Engineering Indicators is a congressionally mandated report on the state of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise.


About NSB
The NSB identifies issues critical to NSF’s future, establishes its policies, and serves as co-head of agency with the NSF Director. The Board also advises the President and Congress on policy matters related to science and engineering (S&E) and S&E education. Selected for their distinguished service and accomplishments in academia, government, and the private sector, the Board’s 24 presidentially appointed members are leaders in science and engineering, and in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.


The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) is the nation's leading provider of statistical data on the U.S. science and engineering enterprise. As a principal federal statistical agency, NCSES serves as a clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation, analysis, and dissemination of objective science and engineering data. 


Media Contact
Nadine Lymn, National Science Board, (703) 292-2490,

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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