Send to

Choose Destination
Account Res. 2017;24(3):127-151. doi: 10.1080/08989621.2016.1268922. Epub 2016 Dec 21.

Who Believes in the Storybook Image of the Scientist?

Author information

a Department of Methodology and Statistics, Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences , Tilburg University , Tilburg , The Netherlands.
b Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences , Utrecht University , Utrecht , The Netherlands.


Do lay people and scientists themselves recognize that scientists are human and therefore prone to human fallibilities such as error, bias, and even dishonesty? In a series of three experimental studies and one correlational study (total N = 3,278) we found that the "storybook image of the scientist" is pervasive: American lay people and scientists from over 60 countries attributed considerably more objectivity, rationality, open-mindedness, intelligence, integrity, and communality to scientists than to other highly-educated people. Moreover, scientists perceived even larger differences than lay people did. Some groups of scientists also differentiated between different categories of scientists: established scientists attributed higher levels of the scientific traits to established scientists than to early-career scientists and Ph.D. students, and higher levels to Ph.D. students than to early-career scientists. Female scientists attributed considerably higher levels of the scientific traits to female scientists than to male scientists. A strong belief in the storybook image and the (human) tendency to attribute higher levels of desirable traits to people in one's own group than to people in other groups may decrease scientists' willingness to adopt recently proposed practices to reduce error, bias and dishonesty in science.


Bias; RCR; fallibility; integrity; scientists

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center