The Knowledge Gap Hypothesis was first proposed in 1970 by Tichenor,Donohue and OLien. Mostly, it is known as Tichenorl or Tichenor and his colleagues’ hypothesis. This theory is concerned mainly with “information” and “knowledge” and emphasizes that knowledge is not distributed equally throughout society.
Content Mass Media’s Role Knowledge Gap Theory
Mass Media’s Role:- One of the great promises of mass communication is that it provides people with information they need. It has the potential of reaching people who have not been reached by other means (poor and undeveloped people). Example:- Sesame Street (which combined information with entertainment for preschool Children.).
Knowledge gap Hypothesis:- “As the infusion of mass media information into a social system increases, segments of the population with higher socio-economic status tend to acquire this information at a faster rate than the lower status segments, so that the gap in knowledge between these two segments tend to increase rather than decrease”.
The hypothesis predicts that: People of both high and low socioeconomic statuses will gain in knowledge because of the additional information, but that persons of higher socioeconomic status will gain more. This would mean that the relative gap in knowledge between the well-to-do and less well-off would increase.
Operational forms of theHypothesis: As seen in the following hierarchy, where the knowledge gap exists is between "Information" and "Knowledge". 1) OVER TIME, acquisition of knowledge of a heavily publicized topics will proceed at a faster rate among better educated person than among those with less education 2) AT A GIVEN POINT there should be a higher correlation between acquisition of knowledge and education for topics highly publicized in the media than for topics less highly publicized
Possible reasons for KnowledgeGap: Communication skills Stored information Relevant social contact Selective exposure Media target markets
Knowledge gaps are notintractable.Contributory conditions that could reduce knowledge gaps: - content domains, channel influence, social conflict and community mobilization, the structure of communities, individual motivational factors.
Criticism Dervin (1980) criticized the KG for being based on the traditional source-sending-messages –to-receiver paradigm of communication. She recommended that communication campaigns and researchers be more user-based and user-constructed information. Evatt (1998) argued that researchers should be sure that the information they are testing is useful and relevant for the audience being tested. (Factual versus conceptual knowledge)