How socioeconomics influences science understanding

When it comes to science, socioeconomic status may widen confidence gaps among the least and most educated groups in society, according to a team of UW researchers that includes two from CALS.

The findings, published in June in the journal Science Communication, show that similar levels of attention to science in newspapers and on blogs can lead to vastly different levels of factual and perceived knowledge between the two groups.

Notably, frequent science blog readership among low socioeconomic-status groups actually lowered their scores on factual tests of scientific knowledge while high levels of attention to science in newspapers caused them to feel they were less knowledgeable compared to those who read less or those from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.

“The science section of The New York Times is not written for audiences with little or no prior knowledge of science and technology,” explains study co-author Dominique Brossard, professor and chair in the Department of Life Sciences Communication.  “Just putting more science in front of less-educated people may therefore confuse them rather than help them grasp complex science.” Read more.