The media sometimes (whether it be intentional or unintentional) misrepresent scientific findings that they report to the general public and this can be especially problematic with social psychology research. The purpose of this assignment is for you to get practice applying your critical thinking skills to information that is provided by the media and do some reading to compare media articles to scholarly articles.
— First, find a non-scientific article in the media from the past two months (nothing prior to July 31, 2020 will be accepted!) that you think makes a misleading claim (NOTE: update: since people have had difficulties with the misleading component, it doesn’t have to be inaccurate or wrong, it just needs to not be forma scientific source!) about social psychology research, theory, or concepts (any topic covered in the book is fine). For example, an article that you believe is misinterpreting a correlational study by implying causation. Look for articles that talk about research that was conducted, but don’t list in-text citations or references (these are indications that the source is not scientific) or do so only superficially. Note: Do not use an advertisement or satire for this assignment. Feel free to ask me if the article you are using is acceptable. Make sure to attach the article or a link to the article. See Announcement for links to some ideas of sources.
What is the claim the article is making? (about 1 to 2 sentences)
What, exactly, about this article makes you skeptical? In other words, what made you suspicious that the author was reporting a misleading claim? (100-150 words)
— Next, investigate the misleading claim deeper to try and evaluate it, what is misleading about it, what does the science actually show, etc? This will involve you doing some online research to trace the potentially misleading claim back to its original scientific source. Typically, more than one media outlet will report a scientific finding. Your job is to google this claim to find other news sources that reported this finding as well. Keep researching until you find enough information to help you find the original source. Report and also evaluate what links/sources you used to debunk the misleading claim, even if they didn’t provide any additional information. This “trace” process may involve you reading a scientific journal article. If you find the original scientific journal article and are having trouble accessing the article, please let me know and I can help. Do not pay for a journal article, most should be available through the Tulane system.
What sources did you use to further investigate this claim? Provide the links to the articles and evaluate these articles as well. Did they also provide misleading information? Did they provide any new information that helped you tailor your google search to find the original source? (150-200 words)
What did you discover? After you have traced the misleading claim back to the original scientific source, what is your conclusion- is the claim actually misrepresented in your original article, or no? Sometimes the answer isn’t a clear yes or no, and that’s okay. Give an assessment of the claim compared to the original article. Make sure to support your arguments and tie to research and theory from class material (about 250-300 words).
Several students have asked about ideas for sources of media articles based on social psychology. First of all, just to clarify, it is not that the article needs to be false or pseudoscience, just not a scholarly paper and it is good if there are things you are skeptical about or things they leave out in terms of methods and conclusions…
In any case, here are some ideas of news sources to search:
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