Presenter Information

Justin Crow, Tyler Junior College

Start Date

16-4-2019 4:00 PM

End Date

16-4-2019 7:30 PM

Description

Chemophobia is a recently identified cultural phenomena where people are afraid of chemicals in their lives, whether "chemicals" are in their food, their medicines, vaccinations, and other products. An increasing amount of people have a concern about the risk associated with chemicals in their everyday life. Chemistry professionals find this a bit strange as Chemistry states that all matter is made up of chemicals. Chemistry has many systems of naming and understanding chemicals which can exclude people from understanding the risk or lack thereof attributed to materials that are common in daily life. This effect could be accentuated by educational background of both the individual and his family. If people were to know more about what is and is not safe, perhaps scientific literacy as a whole could improve. The American Chemical Society and other sources have done studies on chemophobia and the related misperceptions of risk associated with certain substances. The research question I investigated is "Would students misconstrue risk with the names of substances because of the complexity of the name of the substance (i.e., Latin)?" I chose to distribute two surveys to Honors students at Tyler Junior College of various majors. One had them view images of nine everyday items and give their opinion on whether the object was hazardous or not, and the other survey had the same questions with only the names of the corresponding chemicals. The collected data was analyzed to find if there is a dissonance between the risk perceived through the chemical name versus with the common name or pictures, as well as if there is any difference in this effect related to one's major, or the education of an individual's family.

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Faculty Sponsor: Rodney Whetzel (Tyler Junior College)

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Apr 16th, 4:00 PM Apr 16th, 7:30 PM

Chemophobia and the Relation to Names

Chemophobia is a recently identified cultural phenomena where people are afraid of chemicals in their lives, whether "chemicals" are in their food, their medicines, vaccinations, and other products. An increasing amount of people have a concern about the risk associated with chemicals in their everyday life. Chemistry professionals find this a bit strange as Chemistry states that all matter is made up of chemicals. Chemistry has many systems of naming and understanding chemicals which can exclude people from understanding the risk or lack thereof attributed to materials that are common in daily life. This effect could be accentuated by educational background of both the individual and his family. If people were to know more about what is and is not safe, perhaps scientific literacy as a whole could improve. The American Chemical Society and other sources have done studies on chemophobia and the related misperceptions of risk associated with certain substances. The research question I investigated is "Would students misconstrue risk with the names of substances because of the complexity of the name of the substance (i.e., Latin)?" I chose to distribute two surveys to Honors students at Tyler Junior College of various majors. One had them view images of nine everyday items and give their opinion on whether the object was hazardous or not, and the other survey had the same questions with only the names of the corresponding chemicals. The collected data was analyzed to find if there is a dissonance between the risk perceived through the chemical name versus with the common name or pictures, as well as if there is any difference in this effect related to one's major, or the education of an individual's family.