Project Based on Research by Dan Kahan Wins National Science Foundation Grant

Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology Dan Kahan is among a team of scholars whose research initiative on engaging millennials in science media received a $2.7 million grant award from the National Science Foundation.

Northern California public radio station KQED announced on April 16, 2019 that it had received the grant for its project Cracking the Code: Influencing Millennial Science Engagement. According to KQED’s announcement, the project, which builds upon research Kahan conducted with Asheley Landrum of the Science Communication and Cognition Lab of Texas Tech University, aims to:

  • Identify and analyze the interests, motivations and behaviors of millennials and their media habits in relation to various types of science content
  • Test a range of public media science content including text, audio, graphics and video using multiple media platforms, audience research and engagement tactics to learn how to better meet millennials’ needs around scientific news and information
  • Develop best practices for journalists and media companies to reach and engage millennials with science media by using the expertise of science media professionals and science communication academics

KQED’s team, led by Sue Ellen McCann, will work in close collaboration with Landrum in consultation Kahan. KQED will adapt and expand on Landrum and Kahan’s earlier joint research on science curiosity to increase the engagement with its existing science audience and also to reach new audiences within the millennial generation.

“It is a tremendously gratifying experience to be working with KQED on this project,” said Kahan. “This is exactly the sort of collaboration between scholars and professional communicators needed to advance the science of science communication.”

Landrum said, “Dan and I are excited to use our extensive research on the science of science communication and science curiosity as a springboard for helping KQED and the overall public media system figure out how best to optimize their great science content for engaging millennials.”

Kahan leads the Cultural Cognition Project, a group of psychology, communication and law specialists at Yale Law School who are researching the science of science communication. These scholars study how cultural values shape public risk perceptions and related policy beliefs.

Cultural cognition refers to the tendency of individuals to conform their beliefs about disputed matters of fact to values that define their cultural identities. The project also aims to identify processes of democratic decision-making by which society can resolve culturally grounded differences in belief in a manner that is both congenial to persons of diverse cultural outlooks and consistent with sound public policymaking.