Neuroscience & Psychology Postgraduate Society Seminars

Is media coverage of psychological research always a good thing?

It is a well worn cliché that one day the newspapers will say that drinking red wine will give you cancer, then the next day say that drinking red wine will reduce the risk of getting cancer. This is due to simplification, misrepresentation, exaggeration, and/or the dramatic claims that are often made based on scientific research. This may be due to the researchers aiming for attention, or the journalists looking for a neat story, or more likely a combination of both. This means that research findings are often poorly disseminated, but also it can cause the public to lose faith in scientists generally. This issue seems especially pertinent for psychological research since the general public will more often have opinions on a given idea than may be the case with, for instance, medical research. This talk will consider this issue by looking at a recent article investigating voice pitch and electoral success. Discussion of this article (and its significant media coverage) will be made by relating the author’s claims to my own current research that refutes some of these claims.