Nuclear Attitudes Before and After Chernobyl: Change and Judgment1


  • 1

    This research was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, London (Grant No. D00250009) and by a grant from the University of Exeter Research Fund.

Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to Dr. J. Richard Eiser, Department of Psychology, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4QG, England.


This study examines the attitudes of residents of a small town in Dorset, England, toward nuclear and oil developments. The sample consisted of 135 respondents to a follow-up questionnaire sent in June 1986 to a group of 356 residents who had responded to a previous questionnaire immediately before the Chernobyl accident in April 1986. There were shifts in the direction of greater opposition to the existing local nuclear plant, and the building of more nuclear power stations elsewhere in the country; comparable shifts were not found in attitudes toward non-nuclear industrial developments. Post-Chernobyl attitudes were closely related to evaluations of statements offering alternative interpretations of the accident, in a manner predictable from research on social judgment.