In 2007, when I began my PhD study of public attitudes towards biotechnology in Switzerland, public perception of biotechnology had already been thoroughly investigated in other countries, for example, the United Kingdom and the United States. After thoroughly reviewing this literature, it became clear that a gap existed in the methods that had been used. This case study will critically analyse the use of different methods to study attitudes and perception and will include an example of the use of log-linear models and correspondence analysis. To investigate the relationship between gender, attitudes towards biotechnology and associations (images) people have when confronted with the term biotechnology, qualitative as well as quantitative research methods were employed. The free association technique was used to investigate spontaneous associations with biotechnology, and a survey questionnaire was used to interrogate attitudes towards biotechnology. Application of hierarchical log-linear analyses and correspondence analysis to the data showed no relationship between gender and the content of the association. However, there was a relationship between content of the association and attitudes towards biotechnology, and between gender and attitudes towards biotechnology. This case study explains how to organise the data received from the free association technique, construct contingency tables, implement log-linear models and interpret results.
Verbalised Images – An Investigation of Associations and Attitudes