Acceptance of Nuclear Power: The Central Roles of Affect, Trust and Perceived Benefits
Dr. Vivianne Visschers, ETH Zurich, Institute for Environmental Decisions, Consumer Behavior Group
The public’s perception of nuclear power has known some turbulent times. The nuclear renaissance that had started in the early 2000s appeared to be suddenly ended after the nuclear accident in Fukushima; that is, in countries such as Germany and Switzerland, in which a nuclear phase-out was started. To be able to retrace these policy decisions and to anticipate on a change in societies’ views, it is important to understand the public’s perception of nuclear power and its psychological determinants. In my talk, I will discuss—based on findings from various surveys—that public acceptance of nuclear power is mainly related to three factors: trust in nuclear stakeholders, affective associations with, and perceived benefits of the technology. I will show that although a dramatic accident as in Fukushima can to some extent change the acceptance of nuclear power in a country that is not directly affected, these three factors remain the most important determinants of the public’s acceptance of nuclear power. My talk will end with a few recommendations of how policy makers can work on trust, affective associations, and benefit perception related to nuclear power.