Investigating the psychological claims in our media world

Psychological claims are frequently used in the media, from bold statements around the psychology of medication use—to nonchalant references to personality types. But how much are these claims and statements backed by science?

This is the big question guiding the course PSYC216: Questioning Psychological Science in the Media. At its core, the course cross-examines the validity and implications of psychological statements being used in media. To assist with this analysis, students will gain a deeper understanding of the research methods that lead to psychological knowledge.

Beginning in the Winter 2018 term, PSYC216 will explore psychological research presented in media through a quantitative research lens, urging students to critique the psychological claims circulated in their digital landscape.

Course Instructor Dr. Kristie Dukewich worked with Dr. Catherine Rawn to design PSYC216 for students of a wide variety of majors. The goal of the course is to help students be good consumers of research. In our expansive media world, Dukewich recognizes that “it is important for people to have the skills to critically evaluate the research that they hear about in the media”. With the widespread reach of research through online avenues, poorly conducted and reported research is extremely detrimental if left unquestioned. Through the course, students will examine various forms of media, from podcasts to news articles, and ultimately interrogate the ways in which psychological research in media is presented and potentially hidden to its viewers.

This course will also help students who are not psychology majors develop a strong foundation of basic research methods ideas that will be useful for pursuing upper level PSYC courses. Majors can deepen their understanding of research methods in preparation for upper level courses by conducting their own research projects in PSYC217, but this course is not available for non-majors.

Dr. Kristie Dukewich is faculty member at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, a Curriculum Development Specialist at Langara College, and a former UBC Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow in the Cognitive Science area.

Dr. Catherine Rawn is a Senior Instructor in the Learning Enhancement area of the Department of Psychology.