Social desirability influences on judgements of biotechnology across the dimensions of risk, ethicality and naturalness

Piers Fleming, Ellen Townsend, Kenneth Lowe, Eamonn Ferguson

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11 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined the relationship between social desirability and dimensional judgments of risk, naturalness and ethicality for biotechnological and matched natural health technologies. We examine if those who are motivated to respond in a socially‐desirable way will be more likely to rate genetically‐modified (GM) technologies as more risky (less natural or ethical) than those who are not motivated to respond in a socially‐desirable way. One‐hundred and forty‐eight participants rated eight technologies along three dimensions (risk, naturalness and ethicality) and completed a measure of social desirability. The results showed that ethicality was unrelated to social desirability. The dimension of naturalness was related to social desirability regardless of the type of technology. The results further showed that for GM technologies those motivated to respond in a socially desirable way rated these as more risky. Theoretical and methodological implications are drawn from the study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)989-1003
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Risk Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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