Cognitive Daily

If you had to guess where in the world kids are the most enthusiastic about science and technology, you might figure that places like Norway and Japan would seriously outdistance, say, Uganda and Botswana. If you did, you’d have it exactly backwards. An article in the new online journal Science in School reports on a study of teenagers in 35 countries.

Across a variety of measures, kids in poorer countries — those whose economies depend much less on science and technology — had a much more optimistic attitude about science than kids in wealthier nations.

Take a look at this figure showing the responses to the question “I would like to become a scientist”:


The results are quite dramatic. I’d recommend reading the entire article (via Scientifically Minded).


  1. #1 Dafne
    July 5, 2006

    Ok, but, this children in poor countries want to become scientists because they are interested in science or because in their countries is one of the better options they have? I mean, think about the wealth (not only money) of a scientist on a developed country vs. a not developed country and the relative wealth vs the other options available…. difficult question I think

  2. #2 Bob
    July 5, 2006

    What is it about the cultures in:

    * Trinidad and Tobago
    * Portugal
    * Russia
    * Japan

    such that they have the largest gaps between males and females in the desire to become a scientist?

  3. #3 Arni
    July 5, 2006

    I agree with Dafne’s explanation. I live in Iceland (near the bottom of the list) and one of the things that worries me most is that when I choose a graduate university I will have to deny myself of scientific pursuit. I may have to become a semi-clinical psychologist to pay my bills and provide for my daughter (and there’s a matter of student loans too). My interests lie in cognition and perception, but not at all in clinical work.
    The fact of the matter is that there are few jobs for the scientifically active psychologist and they don’t pay as much.
    In Iceland’s uprising economy there is much more interest in getting a Bachelor’s Degree in business or economics which might get a hard worker 3x+ what a scientist makes.

  4. #4 Dave
    July 5, 2006

    That’s really interesting although not as surprising as you may think. When I was in West Africa, I really got the sense that science was elevated to an almost religious status – a case of maybe this will make things better. It was very eye opening, actually, with many students having a disturbingly unrealistic sense of how easily science will fix things.

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