Science on the mind: Examining question ordering effects when asking about science on large-scale surveys

Cameron D. Mackey, Kimberly Rios, Christopher P. Scheitle, Katie E. Corcoran, Bernard D. DiGregorio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research has examined people’s attitudes toward science and scientists, highlighting how religious identities, beliefs, or behavior shapes these attitudes. However, survey design choices have been previously shown to influence individuals’ attitudes toward religion and science. We investigated the extent to which question ordering (i.e. presenting questions about science before questions about religion or the paranormal) in a large-scale survey would influence respondents’ attitudes toward science and religion. Utilizing an experimental design, we found that responding to science questions first led to (1) more interest in science, (2) more confidence in the scientific community, (3) increased agreement that science is a way of knowing truth, (4) more confidence in responding to science knowledge items, (5) more agreement to scientific statements, and (6) more trust in scientists. We discuss the implications of question ordering when analyzing attitudes toward science and religion within the same surveys and future directions for research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPublic Understanding of Science
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • attitudes toward science
  • attitudes toward scientists
  • large-scale surveys
  • question ordering
  • science and religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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