Public Opinion on Cognitive Enhancement Varies across Different Situations

Dinh, Claire T.; Humphries, Stacey and Chatterjee, Anjan. 2020. Public Opinion on Cognitive Enhancement Varies across Different Situations. AJOB Neuroscience, 11(4), pp. 224-237. ISSN 2150-7740 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

People vary widely in their acceptance of the use of pharmacological cognitive enhancement (CE). We tested the hypothesis that the acceptability of CE is malleable, by varying the context in which CE use takes place, by framing the use of CE with positive and negative metaphors, and by distinguishing between self and other CE use. 2,519 US-based participants completed 2 surveys using Amazon's Mechanical Turk. First, participants responded to vignettes describing a fictional character, which varied by framing metaphor (Pandora's box that releases brain performance vs. key that unlocks brain potential), role/setting (student/educational vs. employee/professional), and activity type (blue vs. white collar). Second, participants viewed personalized vignettes describing their own situations. Across both surveys, participants generally found CE use more acceptable for employees than students, while the effects of framing metaphors were unreliable and smaller than previously reported. People were more accepting of CE use by others than by themselves. Participants also found CE use more acceptable if more peers used CE, the environment was less competitive, and authority figures encouraged CE use. Our findings suggest that opinions about CE are indeed malleable, and concerns that peer pressure, the influence of authority figures, and competition might affect CE use are not unfounded.

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Data Availability Statement: The raw data from this study are freely available at the Open Science Framework:

Funding: This research was supported by the Smith Family Fund.


Bioethics; cosmetic metaphor; neuroethics; neurologyneurology

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16 November 2020Published Online

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06 Jan 2023 09:52

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06 Jan 2023 09:52

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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