PSY 105 Discucussion 2

Unit 1 Discussion 2: Mainstream Media

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Popular media sources often report on research results, but they try to present the results in very general terms so that many people can understand. Sometimes, these popular media sources end up misrepresenting research results through their simplification or because they want to create a more sensational story. View the following video discussing a popular study that has even influenced the toy market for babies (Links to an external site.).

 (Links to an external site.)

Dr. Glenn Wilson, visiting professor of psychology at Gresham College, explains the effect of classical music – specifically Mozart – on the brain.
Studies from the 1990s claimed Mozart improved test scores, but replicated studies since then have failed.

Background: Sometimes misconceptions about scientific research come about because of how popular media sources representing research results. An initial study with provocative results may be widely publicized, while the later failed attempts to replicate may not be. Some research may be presented incompletely, or certain aspects of the study underemphasized. When you are examining scientific research, it’s a good idea to employ the LEARN approach introduced in Chapter 1, section 1.4:

  • Look for multiple influences: Are there factors not considered that could have influenced results?
  • Examine alternatives: Are there other possible causes for the outcome of a study than the stated one?
  • Analyze the evidence: Were there flaws in the experiment design or data collection?
  • Reasoned skepticism: What bias might exist on the part of the researchers?
  • Notice assumptions: Do you have any biases that may influence your attitude toward the research and conclusions?

Discussion Instructions: Find an example of psychological research reported in the mainstream media, or read one of the examples below. Write 2 to 3 paragraphs that include the following:

  • Summarize what results or conclusions are presented in the article.
  • Use the LEARN approach to identify any flaws you see in the research or conclusions. Remember that just because two factors are correlated does not mean that one caused the other.
  • Discuss how sensationalizing these research results could be harmful. If an article misrepresents or overemphasizes the conclusions of the research, what are some of the long-term problems this might cause?
  • Imagine and describe a scenario about how misinterpretation of the article you chose could be damaging to a person or a community.
  • What information could have been included that would have presented the information more responsibly?

Example Articles


Scientists can read your mind (Links to an external site.)

Weight-loss surgery and teens’ mental health (Links to an external site.)

Tetris can fight cravings? (Links to an external site.)

Imagination leads to obsessive-compulsive disorder (Links to an external site.)


When responding to your classmates, consider pointing out any influences or flaws in the research they present that they may have missed.

For more information about discussion grading criteria, visit the Undergraduate Discussion Participation Policies and Rubric page located in ECPI Resources.



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