Comparing the knowledge gap hypothesis in the United States and Singapore: The case of nanotechnology

Shirley S. Ho*, Jiemin Looi, Yan Wah Leung, Mesfin Awoke Bekalu, Kasisomayajula Viswanath

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines the knowledge gap hypothesis in the United States and Singapore in the context of nanotechnology. This study proposes that academic discipline serves as a better indicator than education levels in predicting nanotechnology knowledge gaps. To reflect the contemporary media landscape, this study examines how attention to online media and documentaries alongside traditional news outlets affect individuals’ nanotechnology knowledge. In both countries, online media and documentaries, as well as traditional news outlets, were related to nanotechnology knowledge to various extents. While the knowledge gap hypothesis was not observed in Singapore, results revealed that increased media attention and interpersonal discussion widened knowledge gaps between individuals from science and non-science disciplines in the United States. Education levels failed to reveal a consistent moderation effect. Taken together, the interaction analyses revealed that academic discipline predicted nanotechnology knowledge gaps more consistently than education levels in the United States. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)835-854
Number of pages20
JournalPublic Understanding of Science
Issue number8
Early online date2 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

User-Defined Keywords

  • knowledge gap hypothesis
  • mass media
  • nanotechnology
  • public opinion
  • risk perception


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