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Exploring Relationships Among Belief in Genetic Determinism, Genetics Knowledge, and Social Factors
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8735-2102
Norwegian Inst Publ Hlth, Dept Commun, Oslo, Norway.
Aix Marseille Univ, ENS Lyon, Marseille, France.
Univ Fed Bahia, Hist Philosophy & Biol Teaching Lab, Inst Biol, Salvador, BA, Brazil.
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2017 (English)In: Science & Education, ISSN 0926-7220, E-ISSN 1573-1901, Vol. 26, no 10, p. 1223-1259Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Genetic determinism can be described as the attribution of the formation of traits to genes, where genes are ascribed more causal power than what scientific consensus suggests. Belief in genetic determinism is an educational problem because it contradicts scientific knowledge, and is a societal problem because it has the potential to foster intolerant attitudes such as racism and prejudice against sexual orientation. In this article, we begin by investigating the very nature of belief in genetic determinism. Then, we investigate whether knowledge of genetics and genomics is associated with beliefs in genetic determinism. Finally, we explore the extent to which social factors such as gender, education, and religiosity are associated with genetic determinism. Methodologically, we gathered and analyzed data on beliefs in genetic determinism, knowledge of genetics and genomics, and social variables using the "Public Understanding and Attitudes towards Genetics and Genomics" (PUGGS) instrument. Our analyses of PUGGS responses from a sample of Brazilian university freshmen undergraduates indicated that (1) belief in genetic determinism was best characterized as a construct built up by two dimensions or belief systems: beliefs concerning social traits and beliefs concerning biological traits; (2) levels of belief in genetic determination of social traits were low, which contradicts prior work; (3) associations between knowledge of genetics and genomics and levels of belief in genetic determinism were low; and (4) social factors such as age and religiosity had stronger associations with beliefs in genetic determinism than knowledge. Although our study design precludes causal inferences, our results raise questions about whether enhancing genetic literacy will decrease or prevent beliefs in genetic determinism.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 26, no 10, p. 1223-1259
National Category
Pedagogical Work Genetics
Research subject
Educational Work
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URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-65970DOI: 10.1007/s11191-017-9950-yISI: 000419185600007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-65970DiVA, id: diva2:1177675
Available from: 2018-01-25 Created: 2018-01-25 Last updated: 2018-06-04Bibliographically approved

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