The Ideological Divide in Public Perceptions of Self-driving Cars
Public Understanding of Science, Forthcoming
36 Pages Posted: 7 May 2020
Date Written: 2020
Applications in artificial intelligence such as self-driving cars may profoundly transform our society, yet emerging technologies are frequently faced with suspicion or even hostility. Meanwhile, public opinions about scientific issues are increasingly polarized along the ideological line. By analyzing a nationally representative panel in the United States, we reveal an emerging ideological divide in public reactions to self-driving cars. Compared with liberals and Democrats, conservatives and Republicans express more concern about autonomous vehicles and more support for restrictively regulating autonomous vehicles. This ideological gap is largely driven by social conservatism. Moreover, both familiarity with driver-less vehicles and scientific literacy reduce respondents’ concerns over driver-less vehicles and support for regulation policies. Still, the effects of familiarity and scientific literacy are weaker among social conservatives, indicating that people may assimilate new information in a biased manner that promotes their worldviews.
Keywords: Self-Driving Cars, Political Ideology, Cultural Cognition, Scientific Literacy, Risk Perception
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