People who distrust scientists are more likely to reject scientific consensus, and are more likely to support politicians who are sceptical of scientific research. Consequently, boosting Americans’ trust in scientists is a central goal of science communication. However, while previous research has identified several correlates of distrust in climate scientists and scientists more broadly, far less is known about potential long-term influences taking root in young adulthood. This omission is notable, as previous research suggests that attitudes towards science formulated in pre-teenage years play a key role in shaping attitudes in adulthood. Using data from the Longitudinal Study of American Youth, I find that interest in science at age 12–14 years is associated with increased trust in climate scientists in adulthood (mid thirties), irrespective of Americans’ political ideology. The enduring and bipartisan effects of scientific interest at young ages suggest a potential direction for future efforts to boost mass trust in climate scientists.
(2018). The enduring effect of scientific interest on trust in climate scientists in the United States Nature Climate Change