Making up your mind about a complex technology
On January 21st, 2015 Charlotte Koot defended her thesis successful at the University of Leiden. The title of her thesis is: "Making up your mind about a complex technology: An investigation
into factors that help or hinder the achievement of cognitive closure about CCS".
Modern day society is increasingly characterized by complex technological innovations. Think for instance of the impact that the smartphone had on our communication. Many of these innovations impact to some degree on people's lives and it is hence not surprising that the implementation of complex technologies can generally only succeed with acceptance of the general public. The public opinion can thus be a decisive factor for the large-scale implementation of a novel technology. For most people, however, forming a point of view, or an attitude, about a complex technology is quite a challenging task.
The present dissertation identifies psychological factors that affect the ease with which people form a definite attitude, or achieve a state of cognitive closure, about the implementation of a complex technology. Attitudes about which people have achieved cognitive closure are relevant, because they are more stable than open, "unfinished" attitudes. Additionally, these "closed" attitudes are better predictors of people's behavior (e.g., protesting against a technology). The studies in this dissertation focus on attitude formation about a specific complex technology: carbon capture and storage (CCS). Results show that people with a high ability to achieve cognitive closure-people who believe they are capable of forming a definite attitude-actually form a more closed and definite attitude than people with a lower ability to achieve cognitive closure. Whether people believe they are able to achieve closure depends on characteristics of communication they receive about the technology, such as the identity of the information source.
The extent to which people feel able to form a definite attitude also depends on how risky they perceive the technology to be and on the negative emotions they experience when confronted with the technology.
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