The Popular Media Assignment 1

Table of Contents

Popular Media

The Assignment:

Popular Media

STEP #1: Select ONE popular press/mainstream media source (i.e., newspaper or magazine article,

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online article, TV program) that discusses recent research on a psychological topic. Read this article, noting the general conclusions/impressions the average reader would make about the research findings based on that article.

STEP #2: Next, locate the scientific source (i.e., peer-reviewed journal article) that originally published

the research findings discussed in the popular press article. Read the original source, paying particular attention to how it may differ from the first in terms of language, tone and/or content when discussing the research findings.

STEP #3: After noting the similarities and differences between the two sources, write a critical review

that compares/contrasts the coverage provided by each (see Criteria below).

Review the grading rubric  for this assignment in the attached file to understand what you need to address in your case study to earn points on this assignment.

Over the next few days, your task is to pay attention to information presented in popular media sources, such as newspapers, magazines, TV programs, and the internet. You are looking for an article/story that discusses some recent scientific finding on a psychological topic. NOTE: For the purpose of this assignment, the popular press source must provide at least some discussion of aspects of the original research

(i.e., its methods, participants, and findings). A very brief press release (e.g., “Researchers find that exotic Chinese herb may lessen depression symptoms”) will not be sufficient. In addition, the popular press article must provide enough information (i.e., author, article title, journal name) that you can find the original scientific article that first published the scientific study discussed in the popular press article.

Your write-up MUST include the following:

Popular Media

1) Date and Source of the Popular Press Newspaper/Program/Website Article (i.e., the name of the article, its author(s), and the publication in which it appeared; the URL for the website) that discusses the findings of a research study conducted on a given psychological topic.

2) Summary of the Popular Press Article. Provide a summary of the article’s main points. This summary should include enough detail so that someone who has not read the article would still have a complete picture of what it had included. Be sure that your summary highlights the conclusions the average reader would be likely to draw about the research findings (and psychology in general) based on the coverage provided in the article.

(NOTE: It is advised that you complete these first two steps of the assignment before reading the original study (in the scientific source). That way, you are experiencing the popular press article on its own. This will help to make any differences between it and the original scientific study more salient to you.)

3) Date and Source of the Scientific Article (i.e., title of the article; its author(s); name of the journal) that originally published the study discussed in the popular press article.

4) Compare/Contrast to the Original Scientific Source. After summarizing the popular press article, read the original study published in the scientific/academic source. Compare and contrast how the same research findings are presented/discussed in the two sources (popular press vs academic/scientific). In doing so, please consider the following:

a) Do the two sources differ in terms of language and/or tone? Are strategies used by either to “grab the reader’s attention”? If so, how?

b) Does the popular press article “get it right”? That is to say, does the article accurately relay the methodology, findings, and/or conclusions of the original study? If not, what errors or oversimplifications are made?

c) Does the popular press article cite implications for the original research that “go beyond” what the original researchers have claimed? For example, does the popular press article suggest that the variables studied are causally related (i.e., one caused the other to happen) when the original research is merely a correlation between the two variables (and therefore cannot be used to make conclusions about causality between those variables)?

d) Would a reader who read only one of these articles be likely to draw different conclusions about the psychological topic being examined (and/or psychology in general) or would the conclusions be similar regardless of the source of the information (i.e. popular press versus academic)? If different, what would the differences be and what implications might that have?

e) What has this exercise taught you about the process by which research findings on psychological topics are communicated to the general public and how will it affect how you read articles (from various sources) in the future?

5) Complete Reference List. Provide a complete Reference list that includes each source cited in your psychological application discussion (both popular and peer-reviewed). The APA tutorial from Assignment 1 covers citation and APA format for journal article references. You are encouraged to use the APA resources posted in Blackboard for help with APA format

PRINT THIS PAGE and staple it to your assignment for use during grading.

Popular Media

The grading rubric below will be used to evaluate this assignment. Addressing each element of the rubric well will ensure that you have included all critical aspects of the assignment.

Academic Integrity: Any student caught plagiarizing this assignment will receive an F for the assignment and will be formally reported to the Office of Student Conduct. To reinforce academic integrity, insert your name in the statement below and provide your signature prior to submission.

“I, ______________________________________________, verify that this assignment is my original work.”

Your Signature: _______________________________________________________________


MECHANICS & STYLE (25% = 5 points)

1) Are there 3 or more errors in spelling, grammar, and/or punctuation? If so, -2 pts

2) Are sentences logically related to one another? If not … -1 pt

3) Is the paper’s overall organization consistent and logical? If not . . . -2 pts

APA FORMAT (20% = 4 points)

1) Are the in-text citations in APA Format?

Only 1-2 errors -1 pt

3 or more errors -2 pts

2) Are the references on Reference page in APA format?

Only 1-2 errors -1 pt

3 or more errors -2 pts

NOTE: Failure to include citations for references in your assignment is considered plagiarism so

please be sure to cite all resources you use.

CONTENT (60% = 11 points)

Popular Media

1) Is the summary of the popular press article sufficiently complete so that someone

unfamiliar with the article would have a general sense of what it reports about the

research findings? ____/2 pts

2) Does the write-up provide a critical analysis of the differences and/or similarities

between the two articles in terms of language/word choice and tone? ____/2 pts

3) Does the write-up provide a critical analysis of the differences/similarities between

the two articles in terms of content (i.e., are the same conclusions or implications

drawn; would someone have the same impression of the research findings if she/he

read only one of these articles)? ____/4 pts

4) Does the write-up include an insightful discussion of what the student learned about

the coverage of psychological research in the popular press and how it will affect how

she/he consumes such information in the future? ____/3 pts

Was the assignment late? _________

(2 pt deduction per/day including the due date if assignment was submitted after class)

NOTE: Assignments submitted more than 3 days past their deadline will not be accepted.

FINAL GRADE (Mechanics/Style + Format + Content minus any late deductions): _______/20 points

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