February 5, 2013

What the Public Knows – In Pictures, Maps, Graphs and Symbols

News and Political Knowledge Quiz

About the Survey

The analysis in this report is based on a web survey conducted January18-24, 2013 among a sample of 1,041 adults, 18 years of age or older. The survey was conducted by GfK Knowledge Networks (KN) among a random sample of households in their nationally representative online research panel, KnowledgePanel. KnowledgePanel members are recruited through probability sampling methods and include both those with internet access and those without. (Those who do not already have it are provided internet access f and, if needed, a device to access the internet, when they join the panel.) A combination of random digit dialing (RDD) sampling and address-based sampling (ABS) methodologies have been used to recruit panel members; in 2009 the sampling methodology was switched from RDD to ABS. The panel includes households with landlines and cell phones, as well as those without a telephone. Both the RDD and ABS samples were provided by Marketing Systems Groups (MSG). New panel members are continuously recruited throughout the year, to offset panel attrition as people leave the panel. The survey was conducted in English. Respondents were selected randomly from eligible adult household members of the panel. All sampled members received an initial email on January 18 to notify them of the survey and included a link to the survey questionnaire. One follow-up reminder was sent to those who had not yet respondent on January 20.

The final sample for this survey was weighted using an iterative technique that matches gender, age, education, race, Hispanic origin, and household income to parameters from the September 2012 Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS). In addition, the sample is weighted to match current patterns of internet access from the October 2011 CPS survey. This weight is multiplied by an initial base or sampling weight that corrects for differences in the probability of selection of various segments of the sample and by a panel weight that adjusts for any biases due to nonresponse and noncoverage at the panel recruitment stage (using all of the parameters mentioned above as well as region, metropolitan area or not, home ownership status and language proficiency among Hispanics). Details about the panel-level weights can be found at http://www.knowledgenetworks.com/knpanel/KNPanel-Design-Summary.html.

Sampling errors and statistical tests of significance take into account the effect of weighting at each of these stages. Sampling error for the total sample of 1,041 respondents is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence. Sample sizes and sampling errors for other subgroups are available upon request.

In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

About the News IQ Quizzes

News IQ quizzes have been conducted at least twice a year since 2007. The quizzes pose questions to the public about specific policy proposals, concepts, events, places and people in the news. For previous reports see August 2012, April 2012, October 2011, March 2011, November 2010, July 2010, January 2010,October 2009, April 2009, December 2008, February 2008, September 2007 and April 2007. The results from these nationally representative samples of the public are then used to create the quizzes found on PewResearch.org, where visitors can compare their level of knowledge with the public’s.

The current News IQ focuses is the second in the series to employ visual questions (the first was in October 2011). Because the questions asked about people’s knowledge using pictures, symbols, graphs and maps, a web-based survey was used so people could see and respond to the pictures in the questions. The survey was conducted using GfK Knowledge Networks’ KnowledgePanel, an online nationally representative panel of households recruited through probability-based (random) sampling methods. More typically, the News IQ quizzes are administered to a random sample of respondents reached on landlines or cell phones.

The specific questions used in the News IQ quizzes are selected to reflect a range of topical areas and different levels of familiarity to the public. The goal is to include questions that cover facts and concepts that can serve as indicators of the public’s awareness of information about important issues in the news.

In addition to the News IQ surveys, the Pew Research Center also regularly includes measures of knowledge in its other survey research. These are typically used to help assess how awareness of and knowledge about issues relates to people’s attitudes and opinions on those issues.