Genetics: International Public Knowledge, Perceptions and Engagement.

Chapman, Robert. 2020. Genetics: International Public Knowledge, Perceptions and Engagement.. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Advances in genetics not only have implications for health, but also in areas such as law, society, education and philosophy. There is a scarcity of research focusing on population levels of genetic knowledge and opinions outside of medical domains. As such, little is known about what people generally know, think and feel about genetics. The main objectives of this doctoral thesis are therefore: to develop a novel measure of genetic knowledge and opinions (the International Genetic Literacy and Attitudes Survey – iGLAS); to evaluate the results of that measure (N=10090); and to experimentally investigate the relationship between genetic knowledge, opinions, the media and education (N=33-126). iGLAS results indicate poor levels of genetic knowledge, with variation based on factors such as religion, political affiliation, education level, profession and nationality. Different aspects of genetics showed differences in how well they were understood, and by whom. Genetic knowledge was found to be positively associated with attitudes to important applications of genetics. Experimental studies indicated that genetic knowledge and views on genetic destiny appeared to be relatively unchanged by small manipulations in media exposure and educational interventions. More involved programs of study were found to be much more effective. Public engagement activities were conducted in parallel with this thesis. Attendees of these events reported considerable enjoyment and were keen to learn more about genetics. These events also provided material related to the research aims above. For example, during one event participants were found to have relatively polarised and intransigent views on the use and sharing of genetic information. The findings of this thesis indicate the importance of addressing poor genetic knowledge in the public, especially for key stakeholders such as educators and lawyers. Such endeavours are likely to be met with considerable enthusiasm, especially if they are engaging and encourage open discourses.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


Genetics, public knowledge, opinions, society, international differences, public engagement

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



22 June 2020

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

09 Jun 2021 16:42

Last Modified:

22 Jun 2023 01:26


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