Social representations of stem cell research and preimplantation genetic diagnosis

Bethany A. Jones, Catherine A. McMahon*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    The study examined public thinking about stem cell research and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) using social representation theory. Social representation theory is concerned with the movement of scientific knowledge from the realm of the specialist into lay knowledge. Participants were interviewed and the data analysed qualitatively. Three social representations were found for both stem cell research and PGD. For stem cell research, one was based on irrational fears, one was based on social concerns for the technology and the final was based on the notion of the 'slippery slope'. For PGD, the first social representation was based on concern for the human impact, the second was based, again, on irrational fear, and the third was based on medical applications. Participants rated stem cell research more positively than PGD. It was concluded that while information about both topics is in the process of being transformed, knowledge of stem cell research has been transformed into lay knowledge more completely than knowledge of PGD. Directions for future research included attitude surveys and discourse analyses.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)268-275
    Number of pages8
    JournalReproductive BioMedicine Online
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003


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