Saturday, February 8, 2014


I've always had a weakness for typologies in which you categorize people by names of your own choosing. What a sense of power, and if others cite you, what a sense of academic prestige.

Here's a study that examines "news media repertoires" and categorizes people as:
  • News Avoiders (name is self explanatory)
  • Emerging News Seekers (use largely new media)
  • Traditional News Seekers (old farts, like me)
There's nothing groundbreaking in the typology above, nothing surprising. but the real reason I'm mentioning the study is, of course, its focus on political knowledge. According to the abstract:
Moreover, traditional news seekers outperformed emerging seekers as well as avoiders in the acquisition of political knowledge, and the high education group possessed more political knowledge than the low education group. Finally, the magnitude of the knowledge gap between the high and low education groups was statistically significant for both the news avoiders and traditional seekers, but not for the emerging seekers.
Education is traditionally the most powerful predictor of what people know. What the study adds is the interaction of education with the typology. For the news avoiders and traditional seekers, education matters. For the emerging seekers, it doesn't.  What the abstract doesn't tell you is that the difference still increases based on education for emerging seekers, but the difference isn't quite enough to achieve the statistical significance seen in the other two categories. Also, the power of these categories to explain differences largely disappears when you control for -- age. Not quite a "well, duh" moment, but a bit obvious.

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