From the wizard to the doubter: Prototypes of scientists and engineers in fiction and non-fiction media aimed at Dutch children and teenagers

Baldwin Van Gorp, Els Rommes, Pascale Emons

The aim of this paper is to gain insight into the prototypical scientists as they appear in fiction and non-fiction media consumed by children and teenagers in the Netherlands. A qualitative-interpretive content analysis is used to identify seven prototypes and the associated characteristics in a systematic way. The results show that the element of risk is given more attention in fiction than in non-fiction. Also, eccentric scientists appear more often in fiction. In non-fiction, the dimension useful/useless is more important. Furthermore, fictional scientists are loners, although in practice scientists more often work in a team. In both fiction and non-fiction, the final product of the scientific process gets more attention than the process itself. The prototype of the doubter is introduced as an alternative to the dominant representations because it represents scientists and engineers in a more nuanced way.

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