The perceived familiarity gap hypothesis: examining how media attention and reflective integration relate to perceived familiarity with nanotechnology in Singapore

Perspectives

Abstract

Public level of familiarity with nanotechnology partly determines their acceptance or rejection of the technology. This study examines the differential influence of public attention to science news in the media and reflective integration on perceived familiarity with nanotechnology among people in the higher and lower socioeconomic status (SES) groups in Singapore. Significant three-way interactions among education, science news attention, and reflective integration variables were found. Attention to television science news narrowed the level of perceived familiarity with nanotechnology between the higher and lower SES groups for those who engaged in high elaborative processing. Science newspaper attention, on the other hand, widened the familiarity gap between the higher and lower SES groups among those who engaged in high elaborative processing. Two-way interaction among education and elaborative processing were found—elaborative processing closed the familiarity gap between higher and lower SES groups. Theoretical and practical implications were discussed.

Keywords

Knowledge gap Perceived familiarity Nanotechnology Mass media Reflective integration 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This material is based upon work supported by a grant from Nanyang Technological University (Grant No. M4080206).

References

  1. Agency for Science, Technology and Research [A*STAR] (2011). Step 2015: science, technology & enterprise plan 2015. http://www.a-star.edu.sg/portals/0/media/otherpubs/step2015_1jun.pdf
  2. Allum N, Sturgis P, Tabourazi D, Brunton-Smith I (2008) Science knowledge and attitudes across cultures: a meta-analysis. Public Underst Sci 17:35–54. doi:10.1177/0963662506070159 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson A, Allan S, Petersen A, Wilkinson C (2005) The framing of nanotechnologies in the British newspaper press. Sci Commun 27:200–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Anderson A, Petersen A, Wilkinson C, Allan S (2009) Nanotechnology, risk and communication. Palgrave Macmillan, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anderson AA, Brossard D, Scheufele DA (2010) The changing information environment for nanotechnology: online audiences and content. J Nanopart Res 12:1083–1094. doi:10.1007/s11051-010-9860-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Anderson AA, Brossard D, Scheufele DA (2012) News coverage of controversial emerging technologies. Polit Life Sci 31:87–96. doi:10.2990/31_1-2_87 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Attewell P (2001) The first and second digital divides. Sociol Educ 74:252–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Basu R, Chang AL (2005) Singapore’s big splash in small science; Nanotechnology institute and company will boost Singapore’s position as micro-science hub. The Straits Times. Retrieved from the Lexis–Nexis Academic online databaseGoogle Scholar
  9. Bauer MW, Petkova K (2000) Public knowledge of and attitudes to science: alternative measures that may end the ‘science war’. Sci Technol Hum Values 25:30–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bennett SE (1994) Changing levels of political information in 1988 and 1990. Polit Behav 16:1–20. doi:10.1007/BF01541640 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bodmer W (1985) The public understanding of science. Royal Society, LondonGoogle Scholar
  12. Bonfadelli H (2002) The internet and knowledge gaps: a theoretical and empirical investigation. Eur J Commun 17:65–84. doi:10.1177/0267323102017001607 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brossard D, Nisbet MC (2007) Deference to scientific authority among a low information public: understanding U.S. opinion on agricultural biotechnology International. J Public Opin Res 19:24–52. doi:10.1093/ijpor/edl003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cacciatore MA, Scheufele DA, Corley EA (2011) From enabling technology to applications: the evolution of risk perceptions about nanotechnology. Public Underst Sci 20:385–404. doi:10.1177/0963662509347815 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cacciatore MA, Scheufele DA, Corley EA (2014) Another (methodological) look at knowledge gaps and the Internet’s potential for closing them. Public Underst Sci 23:376–394. doi:10.1177/0963662512447606 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cobb MD (2005) Framing effects on public opinion about nanotechnology. Sci Commun 27:221–239. doi:10.1177/1075547005281473 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cobb MD, Macoubrie J (2004) Public perceptions about nanotechnology: risks, benefits and trust. J Nanopart Res 6:395–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cohen J, Cohen P, West SG, Aiken LS (2003) Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences. Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJGoogle Scholar
  19. Condit CM, Parrott R, Harris TM (2002) Lay understandings of the relationship between race and genetics: development of a collectivized knowledge through shared discourse. Public Underst Sci 11:373–387. doi:10.1088/0963-6625/11/4/305 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Donk A, Metag J, Kohring M, Marcinkowski F (2012) Framing emerging technologies: risk perceptions of nanotechnology in the German Press. Sci Commun 34:5–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Downs A (1972) Up and down with ecology—the “issue-attention cycle”. Public Interest 28:38–51Google Scholar
  22. Eveland WP (2001) The cognitive mediation model of learning from the news: evidence from nonelection, off-year election, and presidential election contexts. Commun Res 28:571–601. doi:10.1177/009365001028005001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Eveland WP, Hively MH (2009) Political discussion frequency, network size, and “heterogeneity” of discussion as predictors of political knowledge and participation. J Commun 59:205–224. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.2009.01412.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Eveland WP, Scheufele DA (2000) Connecting news media use with gaps in knowledge and participation. Polit Commun 17:215–237. doi:10.1080/105846000414250 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Eveland WP, Thomson T (2006) Is it talking, thinking, or both? A lagged dependent variable model of discussion effects on political knowledge. J Commun 56:523–542. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.2006.00299.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Finucane ML, Alhakami A, Slovic P, Johnson SM (2000) The affect heuristic in judgments of risks and benefits. J Behav Decis Making 13:1–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gaziano C, Horowitz AM (2001) Knowledge gap on cervical, colorectal cancer exists among U.S. women. Newsp Res J 22:12–27Google Scholar
  28. Groboljsek B, Mali F (2012) Daily newspapers’ views on nanotechnology in Slovenia. Sci Commun 34:30–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hamilton RJ (1997) Effects of three types of elaboration on learning concepts from text Contemporary. Educ Psychol 22:299–318. doi:10.1006/ceps.1997.0935 Google Scholar
  30. Handy RD, Shaw BJ (2007) Toxic effects of nanoparticles and nanomaterials: implications for public health, risk assessment and the public perception of nanotechnology. Health Risk Soc 9:125–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hart Research Associates (2007) Awareness of and attitudes toward nanotechnology and federal regulatory agencies. http://www.nanotechproject.org/process/files/5888/hart_nanopoll_2007.pdf
  32. Ho SS (2010) Encyclopedia of Nanoscience and Society. In: Guston D (edn) Sage Publications, New York, pp 714–716Google Scholar
  33. Ho SS (2012) The knowledge gap hypothesis in Singapore: the roles of socioeconomic status, mass media, and interpersonal discussion on public knowledge of the H1N1 flu pandemic. Mass Commun Soc 15(5):695–717. doi:10.1080/15205436.2011.616275
  34. Ho SS, Scheufele DA, Corley EA (2010) Making sense of policy choices: understanding the roles of value predispositions, mass media, and cognitive processing in public attitudes toward nanotechnology. J Nanopart Res 12:2703–2715. doi:10.1007/s11051-010-0038-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ho SS, Scheufele DA, Corley EA (2013) Factors influencing public risk–benefit considerations of nanotechnology: assessing the effects of mass media, interpersonal communication, and elaborative processing. Public Underst Sci 22:606–623. doi:10.1177/0963662511417936 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Holbrook TM (2002) Presidential campaigns and the knowledge gap. Polit Commun 19:437–454. doi:10.1080/10584600290109997 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hwang Y, Jeong S (2009) Revisiting the knowledge gap hypothesis: a meta-analysis of thirty-five years of research. J Mass Commun Q 86:513–532Google Scholar
  38. Jenssen AT (2012) Widening or closing the knowledge gap? NORDICOM Rev 33:19–36Google Scholar
  39. Jonassen DH, Beissner K, Yacci M (1993) Structural knowledge: techniques for representing, conveying, and acquiring structural knowledge. Structural knowledge: techniques for representing, conveying, and acquiring structural knowledge. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc, Hillsdale, NJ EnglandGoogle Scholar
  40. Kahan DM, Braman D, Slovic P, Gastil J, Cohen G (2009) Cultural cognition of the risks and benefits of nanotechnology. Nat Nanotechnol 4:87–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kalyuga S (2009) Knowledge elaboration: a cognitive load perspective. Learn Instr 19:402–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Katz E (1957) The two-step flow of communication: an up-to-date report on an hypothesis. Public Opin Q 21:61–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kennedy JM (1993) A comparison of telephone survey respondent selection procedures. Paper presented at the American Association for Public Opinion Research, St. CharlesGoogle Scholar
  44. Kjærgaard R (2010) Making a small country count: nanotechnology in Danish newspapers from 1996 to 2006. Public Underst Sci 19:80–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kleinnijenhuis J (1991) Newspaper complexity and the knowledge gap. Eur J Commun 6:499–522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Kwak N (1999) Revisiting the knowledge gap hypothesis: education, motivation, and media use. Commun Res 26:385–413. doi:10.1177/009365099026004002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ladwig P, Dalrymple KE, Brossard D, Scheufele DA, Corley EA (2012) Perceived familiarity or factual knowledge? Comparing operationalizations of scientific understanding. Sci Public Policy 39:761–774. doi:10.1093/scipol/scs048 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lee CJ (2009) The role of internet engagement in the health-knowledge gap. J Broadcast Electron Media 53:365–382. doi:10.1080/08838150903102758 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lee CJ (2010) The interplay between media use and interpersonal communication in the context of healthy lifestyle behaviors: reinforcing or substituting? Mass Commun Soc 13:48–66. doi:10.1080/15205430802694869 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Lee CJ, Scheufele DA (2006) The influence of knowledge and deference toward scientific authority: a media effects model for public attitudes toward nanotechnology. J Mass Commun Q 83:819–834Google Scholar
  51. Liang X et al. (2013) Value predispositions as perceptual filters: comparing of public attitudes toward nanotechnology in the United States and Singapore. Public Underst Sci. doi:10.1177/0963662513510858
  52. Lin S, Lin H, Wu Y (2013) Validation and exploration of instruments for assessing public knowledge of and attitudes toward nanotechnology. J Sci Educ Technol 22:548–559. doi:10.1007/s10956-012-9413-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Liu YI, Eveland WP (2005) Education, need for cognition, and campaign interest as moderators of news effects on political knowledge: an analysis of the knowledge gap. J Mass Commun Q 82:910–929Google Scholar
  54. Loewenstein GF, Weber EU, Hsee CK, Welch N (2001) Risk as feelings. Psychol Bull 127:267–286. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.127.2.267 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Lu W, Hindman DB (2011) Does the digital divide matter more? Comparing the effects of new media and old media use on the education-based knowledge gap. Mass Commun Soc 14:216–235. doi:10.1080/15205431003642707 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Mansoori GA, Mohazzabi P, McCormack P, Jabbari S (2007) Nanotechnology in cancer prevention, detection and treatment: bright future lies ahead. World Rev Sci Technol Sustain Develop 4:226–257. http://www.inderscience.com/wrstsd/
  57. Mares ML, Cantor J, Steinbach JB (1999) Using television to foster children’s interest in science. Sci Commun 20:283–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Maynard A (2006) Nanotechnology: assessing the risks. Nano Today 1:22–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Mielby H, Sandøe P, Lassen J (2013) The role of scientific knowledge in shaping public attitudes to GM technologies. Public Underst Sci 22:155–168. doi:10.1177/0963662511430577 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Ministry of Trade and Industry Singapore (2006) Science and technology plan 2010. http://www.mti.gov.sg/ResearchRoom/Pages/Science-and-Technology-Plan-2010.asp
  61. Nelkin D (1995) Selling science: How the press covers science and technology. W. H. Freeman, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  62. Neuman WR, Just MR, Crigler AN (1992) Common knowledge: news and the construction of political meaning. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  63. Nisbet MC, Scheufele DA, Shanahan J, Moy P, Brossard D, Lewenstein BV (2002) Knowledge, reservations, or promise?: a media effects model for public perceptions of science and technology. Commun Res 29:584–608. doi:10.1177/009365002236196 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. O’Mathúna DP (2009) Nanoethics: Big ethical issues with small technology. Continuum International Publishing Group, LondonGoogle Scholar
  65. Petersen A (2009) Opening the black box: scientists’ views on the role of the news media in the nanotechnology debate. Public Underst Sci 18:512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Powell MC (2007) New risk or old risk, high risk or no risk? How scientists’ standpoints shape their nanotechnology risk frames. Health Risk Soc 9:173–190. doi:10.1080/13698570701306872 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Powell M, Dunwoody S, Griffin R, Neuwirth K (2007) Exploring lay uncertainty about an environmental health risk. Public Underst Sci 16:323–343. doi:10.1177/0963662507074491 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Prior M (2007) Post-broadcast democracy. How media choice increases inequality in political involvement and polarizes elections. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  69. Retzbach A, Marschall J, Rahnke M, Otto L, Maier M (2011) Public understanding of science and the perception of nanotechnology: the roles of interest in science, methodological knowledge, epistemological beliefs, and beliefs about science. J Nanopart Res 13:6231–6244. doi:10.1007/s11051-011-0582-x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Robinson JP, Levy MR (1996) News media use and the informed public: a 1990s update. J Commun 46:129–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Satterfield T, Kandlikar M, Beaudrie CEH, Conti J, Harthorn BH (2009) Anticipating the perceived risk of nanotechnologies. Nat Nanotechnol 4:752–758. doi:10.1038/nnano.2009.265 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Scheufele DA (2002) Examining differential gains from mass media and their implications for participatory behavior. Commun Res 29:46–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Scheufele D, Lewenstein B (2005) The public and nanotechnology: how citizens make sense of emerging technologies. J Nanopart Res 7:659–667. doi:10.1007/s11051-005-7526-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Shim M (2008) Connecting internet use with gaps in cancer knowledge. Health Commun 23:448–461. doi:10.1080/10410230802342143 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Singapore Business Review (2010) Nielsen: media consumption levels in Singapore remain healthy. http://sbr.com.sg/media-marketing/news/nielsen-media-consumption-levels-in-singapore-remain-healthy
  76. Stamm KR, Clark F, Eblacas PR (2000) Mass communication and public understanding of environmental problems: the case of global warming. Public Underst Sci 9:219–237. doi:10.1088/0963-6625/9/3/302 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Su LYF, Cacciatore MA, Scheufele DA, Brossard D, Xenos MA (2014) Inequalities in scientific understanding: differentiating between factual and perceived knowledge gaps. Sci Commun 36:352–378. doi:10.1177/1075547014529093 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Tichenor PJ, Donohue GA, Olien CN (1970) Mass media flow and differential growth in knowledge. Public Opin Q 34:159–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Viswanath K, Finnegan JR (1995) The knowledge gap hypothesis: Twenty-five years later. In: Burleson B (ed) Communication yearbook 19. Sage, Thousand Oaks, pp 187–228Google Scholar
  80. Wilkinson C, Allan S, Anderson A, Petersen A (2007) From uncertainty to risk?: scientific and news media portrayals of nanoparticle safety. Health Risk Soc 9:145–157. doi:10.1080/13698570701306823 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Yang J, Grabe ME (2011) Knowledge acquisition gaps: a comparison of print versus online news sources. New Media Soc 13:1211–1227. doi:10.1177/1461444811401708 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Yang J, Stone G (2003) The powerful role of interpersonal communication in agenda setting. Mass Commun Soc 6:57–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and InformationNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

Personalised recommendations