The positive association of education with the trust in science and scientists is weaker in highly corrupt countries

Alper S., Yelbuz B. E., Akkurt S. B., Yilmaz O.

Public Understanding of Science, vol.33, no.1, pp.2-19, 2024 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 33 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/09636625231176935
  • Journal Name: Public Understanding of Science
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, CAB Abstracts, Communication Abstracts, Educational research abstracts (ERA), Food Science & Technology Abstracts, MEDLINE, PAIS International, Veterinary Science Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.2-19
  • Keywords: corruption, education, science, scientist, trust
  • Abdullah Gül University Affiliated: Yes


One of the most prominent correlates of trust in science and scientists is education level, possibly because educated individuals have higher levels of science knowledge and thinking ability, suggesting that trusting science and scientists relies more on reflective thinking abilities. However, it is relatively more reasonable for highly educated individuals to suspect authority figures in highly corrupt countries. We tested this prediction in two nationally representative and probabilistic cross-cultural data sets (Study 1: 142 countries, N = 40,085; Study 2: 47 countries, N = 69,332), and found that the positive association between education and trust in scientists (Study 1) and science (Study 2) was weaker or non-existent in highly corrupt countries. The results did not change after statistically controlling for age, sex, household income, and residence. We suggest future research to be more considerate of the societal context in understanding how education status correlates with trust in science and scientists.