Predicting attitudes towards fusion energy in Europe: results of a cross-national public survey in Austria, Finland, Spain and the UK

Christopher R. Jones, Christian Oltra, Ana Prades

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Abstract

The aim of the study was to examine the nature and antecedents of public attitudes towards fusion in Europe. Data were collected using an online information-choice style questionnaire distributed to diverse samples from Finland (n = 849), Austria (n = 830), Spain (n = 872) and the UK (n = 849). Participants received general information about fusion energy, and specific information about some anticipated consequences associated with investment in fusion that they were required to evaluate (i.e. a consequence evaluation task). The study aimed to: (1) gauge participants’ assessment of fusion following the general information; (2) investigate any change in attitudes following the consequence evaluation task; and (3) use multiple regression analysis to model the psychological antecedents of participants’ attitudes following the consequence evaluation task. The modelling was informed by existing psychological models of technology acceptance. Results showed that attitudes towards fusion were generally favourable: Finnish participants were most favourable, followed by the British and Spanish participants, and finally the Austrian participants. Participation in a consequence evaluation task had only a small effect on participants’ attitudes, with the extent of any change correlated with their initial attitudes. Analysis of the Finnish (most favourable) and Austrian (least favourable) participants revealed qualitative differences in the make-up of their attitudes. While Finnish attitudes were more belief-based, Austrian attitudes were more affect-based. The findings confirm that public attitudes towards fusion differ across Europe and that programmes of public engagement within different countries should vary to reflect these differences.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102028
Number of pages12
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Volume75
Early online date2 Apr 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021

Keywords

  • Nuclear fusion
  • Public perception
  • Attitude
  • Public acceptance
  • Survey
  • Europe

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