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Public Communication of Science and Technology


Sports fans' science knowledge is relevant to their stance on COVID-19 guidelines, but only if they don't care who wins

Ayelet Baram-TsabariTechnion Institute of Technology, Israel. Israel


  • Yael Barel-Ben DavidFaculty of Education in Science and Technology, Technion   Israel
  • Julia BronshteinFaculty of Education in Science and Technology, Technion   Israel
  • Yael RozenblumFaculty of Education in Science and Technology, Technion   Israel
  • Hani SwirskiFaculty of Education in Science and Technology, Technion   Israel
In  recent decades, science education has become mandatory in many countries, under the assumption that scientifically literate individuals make better, more logical, informed decisions. However, studies on ideology-related science controversies show that there tend to be larger differences of opinion between individuals with more education and knowledge of science, a phenomenon that is mainly attributed to motivated reasoning. Here we investigated the relationship between background in science, science knowledge, and motivated reasoning in an authentic scenario involving individuals" commitment to their favorite sports team during the COVID-19 outbreak. Sports fans (n = 264) completed an online survey on health guidelines obligating a basketball team to go into self-isolation in the midst of the Euroleague championships.

The findings indicated that being a fan of this particular team was the main predictor of participants' responses: individuals with greater general science knowledge and greater knowledge of the coronavirus were more likely to say that players should stay in isolation, but only if they were not fans of that team. For fans, there was no correlation between general science knowledge or knowledge of the coronavirus and their stance on the need for isolation. This underscores the relevance of science knowledge in taking an informed position on science in everyday life, but also the overwhelming power of motivated reasoning.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Category: Individual paper
Theme: Time