Background: Genetic knowledge, which plays important functions in our understanding of science, health, social groupings, and even behaviour, has been evaluated in past studies with various populations. This wide reach of genetics means that different types of items are used to assess genetic knowledge, which restricts meaningful comparisons across time- and locale-based studies.
Aim: The present study addresses this limitation by recruiting an Australia-wide sample and evaluating their genetic knowledge using items sourced from four diverse samples.
Method: Seven hundred and eighty Australians completed a variety of items assessing their genetic knowledge as well as several demographic indicators.
Results: The results show superior overall genetic knowledge in the current sample compared with previous samples. Additionally, the study finds that genetic knowledge about health and illness seems to be the most accurate, whereas such knowledge about social categorisations and behaviours seems to be the most error-prone. In the current sample, being a female and having interest in genetics were positive predictors of genetic knowledge; surprisingly educational attainment was not a significant predictor.
Conclusion: Compared with previous surveys, the current sample showed significantly better genetic knowledge. However, certain areas that relate to public understating still indicate rampant misperceptions.
- Genetic knowledge
- Public understanding of science
- Social categorisations
- Temporal and cross-cultural comparisons