Chemistry World

What we talk about
when we talk about chemistry

What does chemistry mean to you? Do you talk about it? Do you think about it at all? Find out what the UK public think and feel about chemistry, see if you think and feel the same, and have a chemistry conversation today.

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What do you think of when you hear 'chemistry'?

Science School Medicine Choose one to get started!

Science

School

Medicine

Choose one to get started!

People think lots of different things about chemistry

21%
Most people still associate chemistry with being at school
Science
16%
Chemicals/elements
14%
Medication
8%
Drugs/tablets/pills
6%
However...
77%
Think chemistry makes life easier But...
52%
Over half don't feel confident about talking about it

However...

77%

Think chemistry makes our life easier

But...

52%

Don’t feel confident talking about it

What do you think of when you hear 'chemicals'?

Toxic Food additives Periodic table

Toxic

Food additives

Periodic table

Choose one to proceed!

The word 'chemical' is generally used in a negative way

Synthetic or man-made substance
Toxic or harmful, bad for human health
Preservatives and additives in food
Pesticides
Hazard labelling on household cleaning products
Poisons and chemical weapons

Generally people don't think much about them at all...

Neutral
55%
Happy
13%
Excited
12%
Bored or confused
14%
Shocked, sad or angry
9%
Generally people don't think much about them at all...
However

But most people understand that chemicals are all around us

60%
Agree that everything is made of chemicals
70%
Agree that everything, even water and oxygen, can be toxic
67%
Know that all chemicals are not man-made

What do you think of when you hear 'chemist'?

Pharmacist Shop Scientist Choose one to proceed!

Pharmacist

Shop

Scientist

Choose one to proceed!

Who are chemists?

26%
Think of pharmacy/pharmacists when people talk about chemists
WHERE DO PEOPLE THINK CHEMISTS WORK
Pharmacies
76%
Laboratories
47%
In hospitals
29%
For pharmaceutical companies
17%
In medical research
17%
Drugs
Prescriptions

People view science and chemistry differently

Chemistry:
Methodical repetitive work
Science:
Applied to the world
Chemisty:
Not involved in the end product
Science:
Active, discovery, exploration
Chemistry:
Serious
Science:
Fun

    Chemistry

  • Methodical repetitive work
  • Not involved in the end product
  • Serious

    Science

  • Applied to the world
  • Active, discovery, exploration
  • Fun

Which of the following do you think the public views as the most 'scientific'?

Biology Physics Chemistry Choose one to proceed!

Biology

Physics

Chemistry

Choose one to proceed!

Chemistry rates highly when compared to other scientific disciplines

Chemistry is thought of as being very scientific

Chemistry rates highly when compared to other scientific disiplines.

Medicine
89%
Chemistry
87%
Biology
81%
Physics
80%
Maths
70%
But medicine came out on top

And most people think chemistry makes our lives better

Public agree makes a valuable contribution to society
84%
Chemists
90%
Scientists
Public agree makes a contribution to economic growth
Chemists
72%
Scientific research
76%

And most people think chemistry makes our lives better

People feel positive about chemistry...

62% Of the public say jobs in chemistry are interesting
59% Think the benefits of chemistry are greater than the harmful effects
...and just as positive about chemists
88% Of the UK public said chemists are approachable
Enthusiastic
Interesting
Honest

However chemists themselves may not think so

80% of RSC members surveyed thought the public see them as unapproachable
Group of scientists

Chemists underestimate public knowledge

Most people think that all chemicals are dangerous and harmful
(56% of chemists agree)
Actually, only
19%
of the public agree with this
Most people think that natural chemicals are safer than man-made
(89% of chemists agree)
Actually, only
40%
of the public agree with this
Most people think that all chemicals are man-made
(62% of chemists agree)
Actually, only
25%
of the public agree with this

Chemists misjudge public opinion

55% of chemists thought that less than a quarter of people think that it's important to know about chemistry in daily life

Chemists misjudge public opinion

Actually,
55%
of the public agree with this
70% of chemists thought that less then half of people think that jobs in chemistry are interesting
Actually,
62%
of the public agree with this

Public attitudes to chemistry are varied

This could be interesting
Mmm, I'm not totally convinced
I am not sure I have time for this
Science is amazing
I don't really know
Receptive
24%

"This could be interesting"

Suspicious
20%

"Mmm, I'm not totally convinced"

Detached
14%

"I am not sure I have time for this"

Interested
22%

Science is amazing

Neutral
20%

"I don't really know"

Group of Buildings

So let's talk about chemistry

My phone is packed with chemistry
How do you make ice cream?
What makes my drink fizzy?
Did you hear that the supposed AFM images of hydrogen bonds might actually just be an artefact of the instrument?
This infographic is based on the research on public attitudes to chemistry in the UK published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. More about the research and to see the full data
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