Published July 17, 2022 | Version v1
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The Everyday Scientific Reasoning Scale – How to guide

  • 1. The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv University, Israel
  • 2. Technion—Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
  • 3. IPN—Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, Germany


The Everyday Science Reasoning Scale - Learn how Non-scientists Reason with Science


Rational - scientific literacy and public understanding of science 

Science is all around us, and has a direct effect on our lives and bodies. Even people who are not scientists, encounter science in many daily situations and are expected to make decisions on issues such as health, nutrition, vaccination etc.,  based on their knowledge and understanding. But are  lay people able to apply their knowledge and skills  in these situations? Do they have the skills to reason with the scientific information  they encounter all around them ? To try and answer these questions, we developed The Everyday Science Reasoning Scale.

The theoretical background of our research is grounded in the fields of science education and science communication. We build on two overarching concepts - ‘science literacy’ and ‘public engagement with science’. Traditionally, science literacy is used in the context of science education research, while public understanding of science in the context of science communication research. Yet, definitions of both terms have evolved, transformed and grown closer over the past years. Our research emphasizes one mutual aspect of science literacy and public understanding of science, namely scientific reasoning.

Scientific reasoning is the ability to rationalize between competing pieces of evidence and to aggregate content, procedural, and epistemic knowledge to draw reasonable inferences. To do so, would require both deductive and inductive skills and systematic attendance to information.


What is the Everyday Science Reasoning Scale?

A validated set of 11 true/false questions that can be used as an independent research tool or as part of a larger questionnaire. The scale measures scientific reasoning by presenting respondents' with several scientific concepts (such as Causality, Construct validity, Random assignment to groups, Reliability, Control group, etc.) framed within a daily dilemma in the context of choosing an effective, scientifically supported diet for weight loss.

Why did we develop the Everyday Science Reasoning Scale?

We developed this scale because we noticed a gap in both research and practice, when it comes to tools measuring the publics’ ability to use or act upon their scientific knowledge and understanding. To date, the most prevalent way to examine publics’ affiliation to science is through a set of true/false questions measuring scientific content. For example “Electrons are smaller than atoms. True or False?”, a question used in the NSF’s science indicators reports. Such measures focus on scientific knowledge, rather than broader understanding of science and its practices, and do not exemplify how such knowledge may be used for informed decision making. In 2017 Drummond and Fischhoff published a science reasoning scale aimed to measure the ability to “think like a scientist in order to evaluate scientific research”. However, it was largely focused on “lab-like” scenarios and assumed some level of previous scientific knowledge. Since most of the exposure to science (for people who are not scientists) occurs in daily encounters, through the media or in conversations with friends, we decided to develop an alternative scale for measuring scientific reasoning based on organic situations outside a scientific laboratory.

What can you do with it? 

You can use it in your research!

You can embed the scale in a questionnaire or a survey as a validated construct to measure your respondents’ acquaintance with scientific concepts and their scientific reasoning skills. 

You can also use the scale as a stand alone tool if it contributes to your research and work.

Don’t forget to share with us what you found :)

To assist you in using the Everyday Science Reasoning Scale, we have created a downloadable “How to” guide to streamline the process of scale administration and analysis. You can download the guide here!


What we found using the Everyday Science Reasoning Scale (Main findings)

  • We found that there is an association between respondents’ scores on the everyday science reasoning scale and their level of education

  • Higher education (at the university level) seems to enhance the development of science reasoning skills 

  • Some scientific reasoning concepts (e.g. random assignment to condition) were more familiar to our respondents, while others (e.g. double blind) were less recognized and more complex.

  • Using daily scenarios for framing science has an advantage since it facilitates the process of understanding scientific concepts. 


Read more about our scale:

  1. In the full article: Establishing an everyday scientific reasoning scale to learn how non-scientists reason with science. (contact us for an open access version)

  2. Download our “How to Guide” - A walkthrough on how to use the Everyday Scientific Reasoning Scale in your research.

  3. Read more about this work in our blog post:


Don't forget to cite us :)

Golumbic, Y.N., Dalyot, K., Barel-Ben David, Y. & Keller, M. (2022). Establishing an everyday scientific reasoning scale to learn how non-scientists reason with science. Public Understanding of Science. 1-16


Additional References

Čavojová V, Šrol J and Ballová Mikušková E (2020) How scientific reasoning correlates with health-related beliefs and behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic? Journal of Health Psychology. DOI: 10.1177/1359105320962266.

Drummond C and Fischhoff B (2017) Development and Validation of the Scientific Reasoning Scale. Journal of Behavior Decision Making 30: 26– 38. DOI: 10.1002/bdm.1906



How to use the Everyday Scientific Reasoning Scale.pdf

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