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Tuesday, 21 December, 1999, 12:08 GMT
Scientists seen as 'geeks' by pupils

Test tubes Scientific research is seen as unfashionable by the young


Scientists have a serious image problem among the young, claims a survey published by psychologists.

In a survey of attitudes of 15 to 17 year olds, scientists were perceived in a negative light, as boring, work obsessed and 'geeks'.

Rather than being seen as white-coated technocrats, carrying out vital research, the survey found that scientists were stereotyped as "dangerous cranks" who spent too long in the laboratory.

The survey, carried out by the psychology department at the University of Bath, interviewed over 250 teenagers about how they saw scientists now and in the future.

These findings come as schools face shortages of science teachers and after reports that an offer of a 5,000 bonus for student science teachers was failing to attract enough recruits.

Even though scientists were not seen favourably, their work was recognised as improving the quality of life. By the year 2030, the teenagers expected scientists to have developed cures for important diseases and found answers to environmental problems.

But there was some ambivalence about the advances made by science, with fears that scientists were "interfering" with nature and creating weapons of mass destruction.

The research was carried out by Dr Helen Haste, Kevin Rice, and Yiannis Zacharious, who presented their work on Tuesday at the British Psychological Society's conference at the Institute of Education.

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See also:
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21 Jun 99 |  Education
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20 Jul 99 |  Education
Teacher recruitment figures disputed

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