Science helps us understand the natural world and has advanced human well-being immeasurably. But sometimes scientific knowledge is incomplete or changes its advice, which can potentially undermine public support for science. This project will examine how Intellectual Humility (IH) can protect against threats posed by scientific uncertainty and promote positive attitudes towards science. Intellectual humility refers to the capacity to appreciate the limits and fallibility of one's own knowledge without this posing an intellectual threat. As an epistemological virtue, IH equips people with an understanding of epistemological uncertainty wherein updates to scientific theory are understood as part of the process of discovery.
This project outlines three research questions, in ten studies, to address how Intellectual Humility can be a useful tool for promoting science attitudes. First, IH is examined in the context of science and religion attitudes. IH is expected to predict science and religious beliefs consistent with intellectual tolerance, and compatibilist attitudes between science-religion (Studies 1-5). Second, intellectual humility can insulate against potential threats to science belief, such as inconsistent or changing scientific advice. IH is expected to positively predict adherence to scientific recommendations following changes in scientific advice (Studies 6-8). Third, one of the dangers of perceived weakness in science is that it can bolster support for pseudoscience and conspiracy thinking as alternatives, with harmful consequences. Intellectually humble people may be better able to reject conspiracy theories and pseudoscience as alternatives to proper scientific advice, to be examined in Studies 9 and 10.
Ultimately. this project will explore the function of intellectual humility as an epistemological tool for understanding science under uncertainty and help advance the meaning and value of the scientific enterprise.