This article presents the results of a survey carried out at two space outreach events in the UK with the aim of characterizing the “public for space exploration”. The survey involved 744 respondents who were asked through a self-administered questionnaire about their belief in extraterrestrial life, rationales for exploration, space policy preferences, attitudes towards space exploration and socio-demographic factors such as gender and age. The public for space exploration was mainly adults between 25-45 years old, and men were slightly more represented than women. The analysis of the relationships between the variables analysed showed that, despite general support for space exploration and particularly for human space missions among respondents, males appeared to be stronger supporters than females, i.e. males had a more positive attitude towards space exploration and stronger political preferences for higher government spending and more ‘complex’ means of exploration such as human space missions. Because mixed groups tend to come together to such events we argue that male respondents would be more likely to be part of the “attentive’ interested” public who come to outreach activities and bring a less interested public with them. Outreach activities by more than mass mediated communication have the chance to engage a less attentive/interested public.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Preaching to the converted?
An analysis of the UK public for space exploration

Marta Entradas  

Steve Miller  

Hans Peter Paters  

This article presents the results of a survey carried out at two space outreach events in the UK with the aim of characterizing the “public for space exploration”. The survey involved 744 respondents who were asked through a self-administered questionnaire about their belief in extraterrestrial life, rationales for exploration, space policy preferences, attitudes towards space exploration and socio-demographic factors such as gender and age. The public for space exploration was mainly adults between 25-45 years old, and men were slightly more represented than women. The analysis of the relationships between the variables analysed showed that, despite general support for space exploration and particularly for human space missions among respondents, males appeared to be stronger supporters than females, i.e. males had a more positive attitude towards space exploration and stronger political preferences for higher government spending and more ‘complex’ means of exploration such as human space missions. Because mixed groups tend to come together to such events we argue that male respondents would be more likely to be part of the “attentive’ interested” public who come to outreach activities and bring a less interested public with them. Outreach activities by more than mass mediated communication have the chance to engage a less attentive/interested public.

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