scientific literacy

Ignorance or bias? Evaluating the ideological and informational drivers of communication gaps about climate change

Erik C. Nisbet, Kathryn E. Cooper, Morgan Ellithorpe

Does the relationship between media use and learning about climate change depend more on audiences’ scientific literacy on their ideological biases? To answer this question, we evaluate both the knowledge gap and belief gap hypotheses as they relate to climate change. Results indicate belief gaps for news and entertainment content and a knowledge gap for edutainment content. Climate change knowledge among conservatives decreased with greater attention to political news, but increased with greater attention to science news. TV entertainment was associated with a significant decrease in knowledge about climate change among liberals to similar levels as conservatives. Edutainment was associated with a widening gap in knowledge based on respondents’ scientific literacy. Implications for informal learning about controversial science through the media are discussed.


Scientifically literate action: Key barriers and facilitators across context and content

Amanda Crowell, Christian Schunn

Scientific literacy can also be described as a level of public understanding of science that encourages one to act in concert with scientific consensus. Investigating actions concerned with environmental conservation, we examine the context specificity of this form of scientifically literate action and the differential motivations that predict such action across contexts. We report on a large sample of employees of a mixed urban/rural county in the USA, representing a diverse range of careers, who completed an anonymous survey about their environmental conservation actions at home, at work and in the public sphere. Results indicate that individuals engage at different action levels overall and for different reasons across contexts; limited support was found for the importance of perceived knowledge attainment ability in predicting scientifically informed actions. Implications for policy and program designers and scholars interested in scientific literacy are discussed.