Culture and Technological Innovation: Impact of Institutional Trust and Appreciation of Nature on Attitudes Towards Food Biotechnology in the USA and Germany

Posted: 29 Jul 2009

See all articles by Hans Peter Peters

Hans Peter Peters

affiliation not provided to SSRN

John T. Lang

Rutgers University - Department of Sociology and Food Policy Institute

Magdalena Sawicka

affiliation not provided to SSRN

William K. Hallman

Rutgers University

Abstract

Using ‘general trust in institutions’ and ‘concepts of nature’ as examples, the article analyzes the influence of cultural factors on sense-making of food biotechnology and the resulting public attitudes in the USA and Germany. According to the hypotheses investigated, different levels of trust and appreciation of nature explain part of the well-known differences in attitudes between both countries. The analysis of a cross-cultural survey of the general population shows that appreciation of nature is a predictor of attitudes in both countries. The higher appreciation of nature in Germany partly explains why attitudes towards food biotechnology are more negative in Germany than in the USA. The relationship between trust and attitudes is more complex than expected, however. Institutional trust is a moderate predictor of attitudes towards food biotechnology in the USA but not in Germany. To explain the varying effectiveness of trust in resolving innovation-related uncertainty we refer to differences in issue framing in both countries and to the higher degree of universalism and individualism in the USA. We conclude that the higher relevance of trust and the lower appreciation of nature make the U.S. culture more apt to assimilate technical innovations than the German culture.

Suggested Citation

Peters, Hans Peter and Lang, John T. and Sawicka, Magdalena and Hallman, William K., Culture and Technological Innovation: Impact of Institutional Trust and Appreciation of Nature on Attitudes Towards Food Biotechnology in the USA and Germany. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Vol. 19, Issue 2, pp. 191-220, 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1440573 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ijpor/edm004

Hans Peter Peters (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

John T. Lang

Rutgers University - Department of Sociology and Food Policy Institute ( email )

Piscataway, NJ 08854
United States

Magdalena Sawicka

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

William K. Hallman

Rutgers University ( email )

Department of Human Ecology
55 Dudley Road
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-5420
United States
848 932 9227 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://humanecology.rutgers.edu/faculty.asp?fid=28

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