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J Health Commun. 2015 Aug;20(8):949-57. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2015.1018571. Epub 2015 May 7.

The Knowledge Gap Versus the Belief Gap and Abstinence-Only Sex Education.

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a Murrow College of Communication , Washington State University , Pullman , Washington , USA.


The knowledge gap hypothesis predicts widening disparities in knowledge of heavily publicized public affairs issues among socioeconomic status groups. The belief gap hypothesis extends the knowledge gap hypothesis to account for knowledge and beliefs about politically contested issues based on empirically verifiable information. This analysis of 3 national surveys shows belief gaps developed between liberals and conservatives regarding abstinence-only sex education; socioeconomic status-based knowledge gaps did not widen. The findings partially support both belief gap and knowledge gap hypotheses. In addition, the unique contributions of exposure to Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC in this process were investigated. Only exposure to Fox News was linked to beliefs about abstinence-only sex education directly and indirectly through the cultivation of conservative ideology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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