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Reports of psychological research are often presented in the media. However, this reporting is often “bad”, for two main reasons:

  • - Oversimplification: Research can be complicated and published research papers can be anything from 2,000 to 10,000 words in length. In contrast, journalists have to reduce this down to just a few dozen words. This means that research can be oversimplified and that important aspects of the research cannot be covered.
  • - Sensationalism: Journalists want to sell papers or magazines and get lots of web hits and forum comments. This means that research is sometimes presented in a sensationalist and controversial way. A good example of this is the Daily Mail front page scare story about in increased risks of a child having special educational needs if they were born just one week early. In reality, there is an increased risk which is significant, but it is actually a very slight increase.

We are passionate about helping people to understand the research process and what statistical analysis is really about so that they can then evaluate the research presented in the media and make up their own mind about the research. This seems far better than people worrying needlessly due to journalistic oversimplification and sensationalism. Please note that we are not just critical of the research and journalistic presentation we discuss – it is important to understand the good and the bad so that you can make up your own mind! Our blog frequently discusses the research that is presented in the media and attempts to help people to understand the research and statistics behind the headlines.

If you would like us to examine the real science behind research presented in the media, please feel free to contact us . Below are some of the headlines that we have recently looked into, with links to the media stories.

  • - Risk for babies born ONE WEEK early: Serious health problems more likely, warn British researchers. Daily Mail
  • - Children raised by lesbians 'have fewer behavioural problems'. Telegraph
  • - 'People become immune to coffee boost', experts believe. BBC
  • - 'Long-term harm' of too much TV for toddlers. BBC