Presenting wicked problems in a science museum: A methodology to study interest from a dynamic perspective

Rooske K. Franse*, Maien S.M. Sachisthal, Maartje E.J. Raijmakers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Science centers and science museums have an important social role in engaging people with science and technology relevant for complex societal problems—so called wicked problems. We used the case of personalized medicine to illustrate a methodology that can be used to inform the development of exhibitions on such wicked problems. The methodology that is presented is grounded in dynamic theories of interest development that define interest as a multidimensional construct involving knowledge, behavior (personal and general) value, self-efficacy, and emotion. The methodology uses a mixed method design that is able to (1) study the predictive effects of background variables on interest, (2) study the interest dimensions predicting individual interest, and (3) identify the most influential interest dimensions. We set up focus groups (N = 16, age = 20–74, low SES) to design a survey study (N = 341, age 19–89 years olds with a broad range of SES) about people’s interest in personalized medicine. Results of a network analysis of the survey data show that despite the variety in emotions and knowledge about subtopics, these dimensions do not play a central role in the multidimensional interest construct. In contrast, general value and behavior (related to understanding scientific research) seem to be interesting candidates for eliciting situational interest that could have an effect on the more long term individual interest. These results are specific for the case of personalized medicine. We discuss ways in which results of studies with the presented methodology might be useful for exhibition development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1113019
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research of Rooske Franse was funded by a Museum Grant of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and NEMO Science Museum.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Franse, Sachisthal and Raijmakers.


  • individual interest
  • informal STEM learning
  • network analysis
  • visitor studies
  • wicked problems


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