Psychological Science On The Internet
For this assignment you will get some practice putting into use some of the concepts discussed in the first chapter about psychological science. You will do three things for this assignment:
1. Find two online articles (not peer-reviewed journal articles) that discuss a psychological concept; one article that discusses the concept in a good way and one article that discusses the concept in a not-so-good way.
2. Using information from the course so far, explain why one article is better than the other in terms of the usefulness of the article for understanding the concept and the likelihood that it’s a scientifically valid discussion.
3. One of the articles should cite a peer-reviewed journal source and you will need to track down a PDF copy of that peer-reviewed journal article to submit with the written portion of the assignment.
Part 1: Find Two Articles That Discuss a Psychological Concept (5 points)
The kind of articles you’re looking for are popular media articles that talk about a specific psychological issue. The articles should focus on a single issue and shouldn’t be too long. They can be about the same issue or different issues. Just use Google or your favorite search tool to find the articles. Think about topics related to the things we’ll discuss in the first half of the course: e.g. the brain, the nervous system, memory, sleep, learning, etc. Any topic will do if it’s psychological in nature.
One article should be a “good” treatment of the issue (see Part 2): that is, the article should contain reliable and accurate information, peer-reviewed sources for the claims it makes, be cautious in the conclusions it draws, etc.
One article should be a “bad” treatment of the issue: that is, the article will be inaccurate, untrustworthy, not have sources for its claims, and make unjustified claims about the issue.
The articles should not be peer-reviewed journal articles. See the images below for examples of what you might see when coming across peer-reviewed articles. If you’re searching with Google, you will often only be able view abstracts because they are behind pay-walls; they will tend to follow similar formats in the way titles and authors are presented; they will often begin with an abstract; and most obviously, they will appear within journals that require a strict peer-review process before publication.
Include the URLs to both articles in the written assignment that you submit.
These are NOT the kinds of articles you’re looking for. *Jedi hand-wave*
Part 2: Explain Why One Article is Better Than The Other (20 points)
Refer specifically to the Principles of Critical Thinking found in the textbook on pages 16-17 to explain why you think one article is better than the other.
• Be skeptical
• Is it likely that the articles’ authors have motivations other than communicating accurate information?
• Insist on evidence
• What kind of evidence does each article provide to back up its claims?
• Examine definitions of terms
• Do the articles explain themselves in detail?
• Examine assumptions or premises of arguments
• What kinds of assumptions do the articles make about the issues and their audience?
• Be cautious in drawing conclusions
• Are the articles cautious in this way? Or do they make dramatic claims?
• Consider alternative interpretations of research evidence
• Are there obvious alternative explanations that are not discussed?
• Do not oversimplify
• Does the article oversimplify?
• Do not overgeneralize
• Does the article overgeneralize?
Write at least one page (single-spaced, 12-pt font) addressing how you used these principles to decide which article was better than the other. Do not write more than 3 pages.
I want to see evidence that you sincerely tried to critically evaluate the article content. I also want to see accurate application of the above principles in your analysis.
Keep in mind, any article is likely to be guilty of violating several of these principles of critical thinking. The short, easily consumable format of most online articles makes it necessary to leave out evidence and explain things very simply, and pretty much everyone who publishes any article of any kind is trying to make some money off of it somehow, so some flaws in an article don’t necessarily mean that the article isn’t useful. But some authors treat issues better than others and it’s worth it to be on the lookout for which articles those are.
Part 3: Finding a Source Article (5 points)
One of the articles you chose should cite a peer-reviewed journal source (follow this link to an article that includes peer-reviewed sources at the end to get an idea of what it looks like). An important part of critically evaluating science journalism on the Internet is checking out the sources. Sometimes, unscrupulous authors will make claims without backing them up or will back them up with irrelevant sources.
To verify a source, we’re going to practice using the academic literature database PsycINFO. This database can be found from the University of Arizona library website by highlighting the “Find Materials” tab and clicking on the “Research Databases” option in the drop-down menu. Then you can simply search for the PsycINFO database from there. It’s important that you access the database through the library database and using your NetID and password, otherwise you won’t be able to access it.
If this is your first time using the PsycINFO database, please complete the tutorial. Once you are comfortable with using PsycINFO, use the title of one of the sources from one of your articles as a search term to locate the article in the database. When the article comes up, look for the “PDF Full Text” or “Linked Full Text” options, click to download the article, and then upload the PDF of the article along with your written assignment.
If you don’t see the “PDF Full Text” or “Linked Full Text” options next to your source in PsycINFO, take a screenshot of the search results and submit that along with your assignment.
RECAP (Please ask questions if anything is unclear):
1. Find two journalistic articles about psychology; one good, one bad. Submit URLs for these articles.
2. Critically evaluate both articles using principles learned in the class. Submit your writing.
3. Locate an academic source article cited in one of your articles using the PsycINFO database. Submit a PDF of the source article.