Carmelo POLINO, University of Oviedo, Spain
Information seeking is a key-driven dimension of public understanding of science. There are different patterns of information acquisition, modalities of public engagement, and audiences. Empirical research has revealed the existence of an 'attentive public' (interested and relatively informed), a 'distant public' that does not show interest (and also could manifest reservations to science), and a fraction of 'trusted public' that without information or participation activities, have positive views on science and technology.
In the United States, cohort, education, and literacy have played a key role in explaining Americans seeking information and public understanding of science (Stares, 2012; Miller, 2012). In turn, interest and information may also explain science funding attitudes (Motta, 2019). In Latin America, interest and consumption are high stratified by education and socioeconomic position (Polino & van den Eynde, 2019; Polino & Castelfranchi, 2019). In Canada, the salience of knowledge for the interest, and the perception of science, has also early empathized, besides the role of attitudes to science funding (Miller et al, 1997; Einsiedel, 1994).
In this communication, we assume the PREK model (promise, reserve, engagement, and knowledge) to study information seeking as an indicator of public engagement about science & health in the Americas by using data from the Wellcome Trusts' Global Monitor (2018) survey. We first perform a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and show data are consistent with the PREK model theoretical assumptions. We then identify the factors better predict information seeking using structural equation modeling (path analysis) that includes PREK, exogenous (age, gender, and urban-rural distinction), and control variables (household income, education, religious fundamentalism, and trust in scientists). We finally discuss some differences detected among Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, the US, and Canada.