Knowledge Gap Hypothesis and Pandemics: Covid-19 Knowledge, Communication Inequality, and Media Literacy in Lebanon

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access | Ahead of Print | Last Modified: 20 December 2022

Knowledge Gap Hypothesis and Pandemics: Covid-19 Knowledge, Communication Inequality, and Media Literacy in Lebanon


  • Jad Melki Institute of Media Research and Training, Lebanese American University, Lebanon


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Abstract:  The study examines the knowledge gap hypothesis during the Covid-19 pandemic in a country experiencing severe social, political, and economic turmoil and inequality. The research design assesses Covid-19 knowledge through 13 variables and incorporates income, education, gender, and media literacy among the socioeconomic status variables. It also includes television exposure, social media exposure, and social media posting as media use measures. A cross-sectional survey of adults living in Lebanon was implemented between March 27 and April 23, 2020. The study aimed for a nationally representative probability sample of 1,536 participants (95% CI, ±2.5%) and received 792 valid responses (51.6% response rate). The results show a positive relationship between Covid-19 knowledge and education, media literacy, and social media exposure, but no relationship between Covid-19 knowledge and income, gender, television exposure, and social media posting behavior. The evidence shows a widening of the knowledge gap for those more likely to post on social media and a narrowing of the knowledge gap for those more exposed to social media news, but the observed narrowing of the knowledge gap for television exposure was not statistically generalizable. Finally, the evidence shows that media literacy maintains the knowledge gap by almost identically increasing the knowledge level for both low and high socioeconomic groups, although the limitations in measuring media literacy merit further exploration.

Keywords:  communication inequality; Covid-19 pandemic; health communication; knowledge gap hypothesis; media literacy

Published:   Ahead of Print

Issue:   Global Inequalities in the Wake of Covid-19: Gender, Pandemic, and Media Gaps (Forthcoming)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v11i1.5960


© Jad Melki. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.