knowledge gaps

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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Another (methodological) look at knowledge gaps and the Internet’s potential for closing them

Michael A. Cacciatore, Dietram A. Scheufele, Elizabeth A. Corley

Members of the World Economic Forum recently identified the economic, health and knowledge disparities between the “haves” and “have-nots” in the world as one of the central risks in the global risk landscape. However, research on the role of communication in reducing knowledge disparities for emerging technologies is rare. More importantly, little research has tracked knowledge gaps about emerging technologies in representative populations over time. In this study we examine U.S. public knowledge levels across different levels of education and media use using data from two nationally representative telephone surveys. Our results show that increased science Internet and television use among low education groups can help narrow, or significantly reduce the growth of knowledge gaps that are forming based on educational disparities.

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