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

Douglas Blanks Hindman, Changmin Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)949-957
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 3 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences


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