"Space means Science, unless it's about Star Wars": A qualitative assessment of science communication audience segments

Public Underst Sci. 2020 Feb;29(2):157-175. doi: 10.1177/0963662519881938. Epub 2019 Oct 18.


Scholars of science communication have identified population segments that differ in their perceptions of and attitudes toward science as well as in their patterns of science-related information and media use. So far, however, most of these studies employed quantitative, standardized methods and their descriptions could not go into qualitative detail. This study fills this gap: It delivers an in-depth description of members of four audience segments that were identified in a prior, representative survey in Switzerland. Forty-one of these survey respondents, representing different segments, were asked to note their encounters with science in smartphone-based diaries, and diary entries were discussed in qualitative follow-up interviews. Results show that the segments differ in their criteria for identifying science, expectations toward science, and their reasons to use science communication.

Keywords: audience; media use; perceptions of science; qualitative methods; science communication; segmentation analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't