The cluster analysis yields five groups of people based on their information interests, their trust in a variety of sources, their assertions about their learning interests when it comes to digital information, some lifestyle issues, and their technology assets. These groups are distinguished in key respects by the variances in how they cope with trust (or lack of trust) in information and their desire (or not) to learn.
The chart below shows how people’s answers on several questions play out across the five groups. Note that the growth-mindset measure refers to the 53% who said any one of three things describe them very well – that music skills can be developed, that they could benefit from acquiring better digital skills, or that they would be interested in information literacy training. High trust refers to the 28% of all adults who trust three or more of the information sources about which they were asked. Personal tech abundance refers to the 42% of adults who have a broadband connection at home, a smartphone and a tablet computer.
The chart shows some of the variance in the connection between people’s trust in information sources and their interest in learning. This relationship is particularly evident in two groups: the Eager and Willing and the Confident. But the Cautious and Curious illustrate a different pattern. They are quite interested in learning, even though they hardly trust any of the information sources we queried.
Additionally, abundant access to the internet does not neatly associate with trust in information sources. For example, the Doubtful have below-average interest in news and information even though most have three key kinds of digital connections – home broadband, a smartphone and a tablet computer.
The other factors that influence how people sort into groups are linked to their level of skill in using the internet to find information and how busy they think they are, whether they think they are usually trying to do two or more things at once. As the chart below shows, these factors seem unimportant to the Wary, whose classification comes mainly from a low level of trust and lower levels of enthusiasm for learning. But they are important for the Doubtful, who are especially likely to say they regularly find themselves doing two things at once. The Cautious and Curious sometimes need help finding things online, but might be too busy to reach out for help.
Here is a fuller breakdown of how the groups differ (and all of the typology analysis is reported in the Appendix:
The Eager and Willing (22%)
The most ardent information-engaging group is the Eager and Willing, which makes up 22% of the adult population. This group has the highest levels of interest in news and information in a variety of topics, as well as a high degree of trust in information sources. More than any other group, they strongly trust their family and friends and libraries as information sources. (They are the most active library users, too.)
The Eager and Willing also have a strong interest in personal learning. They are more than twice as likely as all adults to say they would be very interested in digital skills or information literacy training. Perhaps this tied to the fact they report a high level of needing help finding the information they want online. They also wish, to an extent far greater than any other group, that a public library were closer to home and had expanded hours.
Relative to three of the other groups, they do not have particular abundance in digital information access tools and, perhaps for that reason, about six-in-ten report at least occasional difficulty finding information online.
Demographically, the Eager and Willing are majority minority: Some 38% are white, while 52% are either black (21%) or Hispanic (31%). Compared with other groups, this group has lower incomes and educational attainment.
Key differentiators: The Eager and Willing have the highest levels of interest in news and information across a variety of topics. They have a strong orientation toward learning. This group also turns to the library for information and wishes hours were better or a library was closer to home.
The Confident (16%)
The Confident report the highest levels of trust in information sources, with particularly strong levels of trust in national news organizations, government sources and health care providers. They also have above-average interest in news, with special emphasis on government and politics and foreign affairs.
They have relative abundance of tech-access tools, with half (49%) having all three access devices, compared with the average of the overall population, which is 42%. The Confident do not feel they need additional training in digital skills or information literacy. That may be because of the group’s high levels of educational attainment. This group is also, on the whole, relatively well-off economically and younger, compared with other groups. The Confident are more likely than all but The Eager and Willing to have used a library in the past year. They also join the Eager and Willing in trusting libraries as information sources.
Key differentiators: The Confident have the highest overall level of t[...]