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In their recently published open-access article in Regulation & Governance, Jonathan Zeitlin, David van Der Duin, Theresa Kuhn, Maria Weimer, and Martin Dybdahl Jensen tackled this critical but under-studied question through a pair of linked survey experiments on public attitudes towards the reform of EU pesticides regulation among a representative sample of the adult population in six EU member states.

They tested the expectation that citizens are more likely to accept a regulatory decision that runs counter to their prior policy preferences if it is taken under a procedure they support. They first conducted a conjoint experiment to study whether the specific design of decision-making procedures impacts public support for EU pesticide regulation. In a second linked experiment, they asked respondents whether farmers should be allowed to use glyphosate, the best known and most controversial pesticide.

They then asked respondents if they would accept an authorization decision on glyphosate contrary to their prior expressed preference if it were taken under a decision-making procedure they supported. The results demonstrate that a regulatory decision-making procedure respondents support increases their willingness to accept a hypothetical authorization decision contrary to their prior expressed preference.

Contrary to the findings of previous research, their study thus provides strong evidence that governance reforms supported by citizens can enhance acceptance of controversial regulatory decisions, even on politicized issues such as pesticides authorization.

Click on the link to read the article. A short video summary is available on the journal’s YouTube channel.