Motivation and the Knowledge Gap: Effects of a Campaign to Reduce Diet-Related Cancer Risk

K. Viswanath, Emily Kahn, John R. Finnegan, James Hertog, John D. Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


The study described here examined whether knowledge gaps decrease when motivation to acquire information or the functionality of information is similar among more and less educated groups. Surveys at baseline and 12 months compared two groups with differing motivation to acquire cancer and diet information in a community that received a year-long health campaign. The more motivated group (higher on measures of salience, perceived cancer risk, and self-efficacy) was composed of those who self-selected to receive home-based learning, a campaign strategy. They were compared to general population samples. The study found that education-based differences in knowledge were evident even among members of the more motivated group. However, the effect of membership in this group raised knowledge levels higher than the general population irrespective of education level. The study suggested that group membership, information functionality, motivation, and education combined to affect knowledge, rather than motivation alone over-coming the effect of education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546-563
Number of pages18
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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