Inequalities in Scientific Understanding: Differentiating Between Factual and Perceived Knowledge Gaps

Leona Yi-Fan Su, Michael A. Cacciatore, Dietram A. Scheufele, Dominique Brossard, Michael A. Xenos

This study assesses two key types of knowledge assessments, factual and perceived knowledge, in the study of knowledge gaps. In addition, we distinguish between communication channels in exploring the phenomenon, examining nanotechnology knowledge gaps based on levels of attention to traditional media, science blog use, and the frequency of interpersonal discussion. Using regression analysis, we find that how researchers measure knowledge can significantly affect the discovery of gaps. We also find differential effects based on communication channels, including evidence that the direction of perceived gaps in knowledge can be reversed as media consumption increases. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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