What did the journalist get wrong, and why?


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GOAL  One of the main objectives of this course is to learn how to be a wise consumer of psychological research. This research critique will give you practice reading and communicating clearly and effectively about psychological research.


All readings are available as pdf files inside this “Research Paper” module (see attached files).

For this assignment, please choose ONE!!! of the sets listed below. Each set consists of two items: (a) an original peer-reviewed journal article, and (b) a media report covering the research  Choose the set that is most interesting to you!

  • Set 1: Peer values & inclusion

(a) Peer-reviewed journal article: Murrar et al. (2020). Exposure to peers’ pro-diversity attitudes increases inclusion and reduces the achievement gap. Nature Human Behavior.

(b) Media report: https://news.wisc.edu/showing-pro-diversity-feelings-are-the-norm-makes-individuals-more-tolerant (Links to an external site.)


Set 1: Peer Reviewed Murrar-et-al.-2020.-NHB (see attached file)

Set 1: MediaReport_Barncard. (see attached file)

  • Set 2:  Identities & flexible thinking

(a) Peer-reviewed journal article : Gaither et al. (2020). Thinking about multiple identities boosts children’s flexible thinking. Developmental Science.

(b) Media report: https://www.mic.com/p/reminding-kids-about-their-identities-can-make-them-more-complex-thinkers-according-to-a-new-study-18174660 (Links to an external site.)

Set 2: Peer Reviewed_GaitherEtAl. pdf (see attached file)

Set 2: MediaReport_Duncan.pdf (see attached file)

  • Set 3: Values affirmation & everyday numeracy

(a) Peer-reviewed journal article: Peters et al. (2017). Improving numeracy through values affirmation enhances decision and STEM outcomes. PLOS One.

(b) Media report: https://www.inverse.com/article/34079-better-at-math-numeracy-values-study

Set 3: PeerReviewed_PetersEt.Al.pdf(see attached file)

Set3: Media Report_Communs. pdf(see attached file)


First, carefully read both the original peer-reviewed journal article and the media report.

Then, write a paper with two sections. Please use headings to separate your two sections. Double-space your document and use a 12-point font (Times New Roman or similar).

First section of your paper: Summary of the peer-reviewed article (~300 words; this is just a guideline!). Briefly summarize the key aspects of the journal article. Your summary should include answers to the following questions: What were the main variables? What was the key finding or findings? What theory do the findings support or refute? Use concepts you have learned about in this course to communicate the research design and findings.

Second section of your paper: Critique of the media coverage (~500 words; this is just a guideline!). Analyze and critique the journalist’s coverage of the research, using what you learned from reading the original journal article. In this section, make two significant points, dedicating separate paragraphs to each point. Each significant point should be a different argument, critique, etc. about a different question or issue; you should use concepts that you have learned about in this course to make your points. You may choose from the following questions to guide your critique:

  • What did the journalist get right?
  • What did the journalist get wrong, and why?
  • What might the journalist have said differently?
  • If the journalist made any causal claims, were they accurate? (Apply the 3 causal criteria).
  • Did the journalist focus on the same key finding as the scientists did?
  • Did the journalist accurately describe the procedures of the study? Did the journalist leave details out?

Grading expectations

Summary (8 points): Accurate, concise, non-plagiarized summary of the key points of the original empirical article. Includes the main variables, the key findings, and the theory the findings support. Writing is clear. Writing reflects your own understanding; direct quotes from the research article are avoided.

Critique (12 points): A thoughtful analysis and critique, containing two significant points, of how well the journalist covered the research. Clear writing and critical thinking.

A reminder that your paper must be original work! The paper you turn in must be your own work that you have written yourself for this assignment. You may not:

  • Copy words from another student or any other source, unless it is marked as a quotation and attributed to the source
  • Copy something and then alter the words to make it a little different
  • Paraphrase without attribution
  • Turn in work that somebody else wrote

All of the things listed above are plagiarism, which is a serious violation of academic standards and can result in you failing the course. Don’t do it! Please see the syllabus for more information. If you are not sure what is allowed, please ask! All papers will be checked by SimCheck/TurnItIn, which is software that can automatically detect plagiarism.



UNIVERSITY of WISCONSIN–MADISON (HTTP://WWW.WISC.EDU) Showing pro-diversity feelings are the norm makes individuals more tolerant June 29, 2020 | By Chris Barncard | For news media Showing people how their peers feel about diversity in their community can make their actions more inclusive, make members of marginalized groups feel more like they belong, and even help close racial achievement gaps in education, according to a new study. Drawing on strategies that have worked in anti-smoking, safe-sex and energy-saving campaigns, University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers decided to try to change behavior by showing people that positive feelings about diversity are the norm. “In any other domain of public health — saving for retirement, sustainability, eating healthy — it’s the key thing to communicate: It’s the right thing to do, your peers do it, and your peers would actually approve of you doing it as well,” says Markus Brauer (https://psych.wisc.edu/staff/brauer-markus/), the UW–Madison psychology professor whose lab designed the pro-diversity intervention. It’s an effect that’s reflected in attitudes about ongoing protests over Black people killed by police officers. Exposed to larger crowds, more frequent news coverage and the opinions of friends and neighbors, more people have expressed support for Black Lives Matter groups and activities. / “People are heavily influenced by finding out what their peers have done,” Brauer says. “But in the diversity domain, we haven’t been trying this.” The researchers, who published their findings today in the journal Nature Human Behaviour (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-020-08995), conducted extensive focus groups with UW–Madison students. A 5-minute video and posters —like this one designed by UW–Madison researchers — describing peers’ support for diversity were enough to makes students’ feelings about members of other groups and diversity in general more positive. COURTESY OF MARKUS BRAUER / “We asked them — students of color and white students, students of the LGBT+ community: What actually is it that decreases your sense of belonging? What are the kinds of behaviors that hurt your feelings, that make you feel excluded?” Brauer says. “And then please tell us, what are the behaviors that would make you feel welcome?” The non-white students felt like they were kept at a distance from white students — not included in class groups or projects, not included in activities, not invited to participate in simple interactions. “When we asked about what decreased their sense of belonging, they didn’t complain so much about racial slurs or explicit forms of discrimination,” says Brauer. “It was the distance, the lack of interest, the lack of caring that affected them.” Brauer, graduate student Mitchell Campbell, and Sohad Murrar, a former graduate student of Brauer’s who is now a psychology professor at Governors State University in Illinois, used what they learned to choose their messages. “We used a social marketing approach, where we identify a target audience, we decide what our target behavior is, and then we show people how their peers support that behavior,” Brauer says. They designed a relatively simple poster, covered in students’ faces and reporting actual survey results — that 93 percent of students say they “embrace diversity and welcome people from all backgrounds into our UW–Madison community,” and that 84 percent of them agreed to be pictured on the poster. They also produced a five-minute video, which / described the pro-diversity opinions reported by large majorities in other campus surveys and showed real students answering questions about tolerance and inclusion. In a series of experiments over several years, hundreds of students were exposed passively to the posters in brief encounters in study waiting rooms or hung day after day on the walls of their classrooms. In other experiments, the video was shown to an entire class during their first meeting. Control groups came and went from waiting rooms and classroom with no posters, or watched videos about cranberry production, or other alternatives to the study materials. We Value Diversity at UW-Madison UW–Madison researchers produced this video featuring students and experts talking about the positive impact of a diverse campus. Students who watched the video on their first day of class were more tolerant of other groups and more supportive of diversity even months later, and course sections that saw the video improved on historical achievement gaps between white and non-white students. Courtesy of Markus Brauer / Then the researchers surveyed subjects to assess their attitudes about appreciation for diversity, attitudes toward people of color, intergroup anxiety, their peers’ behaviors and other measures. “When we measured 10 or 12 weeks later, the students who were exposed to the interventions report more positive attitudes towards members of other groups and stronger endorsement of diversity,” Brauer says. Markus Brauer The differences for students from marginalized groups went further. “The students belonging to marginalized groups tell us that they have an enhanced sense of belonging. They are less anxious in interactions with students from other ethnic groups. They tell us that they’re less and less the target of discrimination,” Brauer says. “They evaluate the classroom climate more positively, and feel that they are treated more respectfully by their classmates.” The researchers tested the effectiveness of their diversity intervention in a series of UW–Madison courses in which white students have historically received better grades than their non-white peers. In course / sections that viewed the 5-minute video during their first meeting — classes including more than 300 students — the privileged and marginalized students’ grades were equal in the end. “We know the marginalized students experience discrimination; we know their feelings are valid. But we know, too, from the campus climate surveys and our own extensive surveys, that their fellow students report real appreciation for diversity, and tell us that they want to be inclusive,” Brauer says. “They stay socially distant, though, because they worry about putting themselves out there. Our experience is that this intervention is changing those perceptions and experiences, and possibly the behavior, of both groups.” It may be the first result of its kind for such a long-running study with so many participants, and the researchers are hopeful that future work will help better reveal whether students actually change the way they treat each other. “Promoting inclusion and dismantling systemic racism is one of the most important issues of our times. And yet, it turns out that many prodiversity initiatives are not being evaluated,” says Brauer, whose work was supported in part by funding from the office of UW–Madison’s vice provost and chief diversity officer. “We really need evidence-based practices, but for a long time we’ve had no idea whether the things we do in the diversity domain actually have a beneficial effect. We’re hoping to change that.” / Articles https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-0899-5 Exposure to peers’ pro-diversity attitudes increases inclusion and reduces the achievement gap Sohad Murrar , Mitchell R. Campbell 1,2 1 and Markus Brauer 1 ✉ There is a dearth of empirically validated pro-diversity methods that effectively create a more inclusive social climate. We developed two scalable interventions that target people’s perceptions of social norms by communicating to them that their peers hold pro-diversity attitudes and engage in inclusive behaviours. We tested the interventions in six randomized controlled trials at a large public university in the United States (total n = 2,490). Non-marginalized students exposed to our interventions reported more positive attitudes toward outgroups and greater appreciation of diversity, whereas marginalized students had an increased sense of belonging, reported being treated more inclusively by their peers and earned better grades. While many current pro-diversity initiatives focus on raising awareness about the fact that implicit bias and subtle discrimination are widespread, our findings spotlight the importance of drawing people’s attention to their peers’ pro-diversity values and attitudes to create positive and lasting effects on the social climate. F ostering positive relationships between members of different social groups is a major challenge of the twenty-first century. Global warming, growing populations and the depletion of natural resources will increase the number of migrants across the globe, increasing diversity in many countries1. In the United States, White Americans will soon be a numerical minority2. Despite increasing in number, members of marginalized groups still suffer poorer life outcomes. For example, many intelligent and motivated individuals belonging to these groups perform poorly at, and drop out of, educational institutions3. The social climate seems to play a key role in this: the more inclusive the climate, the higher the retention and persistence among marginalized college students4,5. In fact, students’ sense of belonging has been tied to key educational outcomes such as academic self-concept, self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation and academic success5–7. Creating an inclusive climate in universities—that is, getting students to get along with, reach out to, work in teams with, and behave in a welcoming and respectful manner towards individuals from different social backgrounds—is one of the most pressing issues of our time. Despite this urgency, researchers have come up with few methods that reliably create a more inclusive climate. Diversity workshops appear to be ineffective8, with some researchers reporting backlash effects9. Implicit bias training generally does not have effects that last for more than a day10 and seems to have little or no impact on discriminatory behaviours11. Many pro-diversity initiatives have been implemented in schools, colleges and organizational settings, but few have been systematically tested12. In a field that is dominated by ‘best practices’ and ideological discussions, few heed the call for rigorous evaluation of methods to promote inclusion6. In light of this situation, it is surprising that diversity scientists and practitioners have given little attention to an approach that has been proposed by several researchers: social norms messaging13,14. This approach consists of communicating to people that most of their peers hold certain pro-social attitudes or tend to engage in certain pro-social behaviours, that is, that these attitudes or behaviours are ‘descriptively normative’. Such communications shape people’s perceptions of what is common and socially acceptable, which in turn influences their own attitudes and behaviours15. Social norms are customary standards or guides for behaviour, attitudes and beliefs that are shared by a group16. They have a powerful impact because people want to fit in with their peers and will modify their own attitudes and behaviours to align with what they perceive to be socially normative17,18. Research has found that simply perceiving a behaviour to be descriptively normative (common) predicts the extent to which people engage in that behaviour, regardless of how many people actually engage in the behaviour15. Social norms messaging entails providing individuals with information about their peers or relevant others. Relying on the power of perceived norms, such messaging has the potential to change people’s understanding of group norms, their place in the group and the evaluative significance of the content of a persuasive message19. Social norms messaging can effectively reduce the abuse of alcohol and tobacco among college and high school students20–22. It also has been used to enhance environmental conservation by increasing towel reuse in hotels23, reducing residential energy use24 and decreasing residential water use25. Although social norms messaging has been shown to be effective in a variety of domains, it has yet to be shown whether such an approach can be leveraged to promote inclusion in real-world settings. Some research suggests that being told one’s peers endorse non-stereotypical views of Black Americans can lead to less stereotyping of Black Americans26 and overhearing a peer condemn racism can reduce the expression of racist opinions27. The public expression of prejudice toward social groups is highly correlated with social approval of that expression28. By simply describing the attitudes and behaviours of people’s peers, social norms messages emphasize autonomy and personal choice and such a framing has been shown to be more effective than messages that present non-discrimination as a moral and legal obligation that people must comply with29. Furthermore, some researchers have attempted to leverage social norms to reduce bullying in schools by training well-connected students to publicly speak up against conflict at school30. Although these researchers found no differences in social Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA. 2Governors State University, University Park, IL, USA. ✉e-mail: markus.brauer@wisc.edu 1 Nature Human Behaviour | www.nature.com/nathumbehav Articles norms between treatment and control schools, the training led to fewer disciplinary reports of student conflict at treatment schools. Distinct from past research, the research described below focuses on the effects of making salient pro-diversity descriptive norms, which characterize normative practices and values of individuals within an institution rather than presenting an institutional practice31. In the present paper, we propose that social norms messaging can be used to create a more inclusive climate and reduce the ‘achievement gap’, that is, the difference in academic performance between individuals with privileged versus marginalized social identities. Using social marketing principles32, we developed two interventions designed to promote positive attitudes towards social outgroups, increase commitment to diversity, strengthen feelings of social belonging and facilitate interactions in which people of all backgrounds feel welcome and respected. We tested our interventions in a series of six randomized controlled trials conducted in a university setting. About one-third of the student participants were from ‘marginalized’ groups (part of an ethnic or religious minority). Experiment 1 was a proof-of-concept study. We created a professional-quality poster conveying the social norm that most students at the university where the research was conducted endorse diversity and try to behave in an inclusive way (the numbers reported on the poster were based on real data; Supplementary Information). Participants were exposed to either our poster or a neutral control poster in an experimental waiting room. After a short filler task, they were asked to complete an ostensibly unrelated survey with several scales assessing constructs related to climate and intergroup attitudes. In experiment 2, we randomly assigned university classrooms to experimental conditions by putting up several of our social norms posters (social norms condition) or no poster (control condition) during the first 5 weeks of the semester. Students completed a survey assessing a variety of climate-related outcomes in weeks 10–12 of the semester. For experiments 3–6, we created a 5-min video (Supplementary Information). About half of the scenes in the video were unscripted interviews with students who expressed how much they appreciated the diversity on campus and that they enjoyed getting to know people from other social groups. The other half of the video consisted of short scenes with local scientists and diversity specialists who reported research showing that most students on campus attempt to behave in a non-prejudiced and inclusive manner. They acknowledged that blatant acts of discrimination undoubtedly occur on campus, but cited data suggesting that these acts seemed to be attributable to a numerical minority of students, whose values were fundamentally at odds with those of most members of the campus community. In experiment 3, students in classrooms were exposed to our social norms video on the first day of the semester (or not) and completed the outcome survey 10–12 weeks later. In experiment 4, we wanted to see if the beneficial effects of the social norms video generalize to a different setting, verify if the effects were actually due to a change in perceived social norms and assess behavioural intentions. The study took place online and participants were randomly assigned to watch either our social norms video or a control video about cranberry production. Watching a video on diversity may have multiple effects: it may change participants’ perceptions of peer norms and it may change their impression of how committed the university is to diversity. Our theoretical analysis suggests that the effect of the social norms video on attitudes and behaviours should be due to a shift in perceived peer norms. We thus included, in addition to the standard outcomes used in experiments 2 and 3, the following two process measures: participants’ perceptions of peer norms and of the university’s commitment to diversity. We expected the beneficial effects of the social norms video on the standard outcome measures to be mediated by Nature Human Behaviour the former but not by the latter process measure. Finally, to better understand whether the intervention affected behavioural intentions, we asked participants to indicate their interest in a number of campus programmes. One of these was a social justice course, the others were unrelated to intergroup relations. We expected participants in the social norms condition to report greater intention to participate in the social justice course than in the control condition. Experiment 5 had multiple purposes. First, we wanted to ensure that the beneficial effects of our social norms video were not driven by the fact that instructors showed a video on diversity in their classrooms, so we included a third condition in which students viewed a different video on bias and micro-aggressions. Second, we wanted to see if the effects generalized to a larger set of outcomes. We thus included several additional scales measuring various intergroup constructs, some of which were indicative of an inclusive climate (for example, intergroup anxiety) and some of which were not (for example, support for pro-diversity policies). Third, we wanted to provide more direct evidence for the idea that students from non-marginalized groups actually changed their behaviours toward their marginalized peers as a result of the social norms video being shown in their classrooms. We thus asked participants to rate their peers’ behaviours. We also included a much larger sample so that we could conduct analyses in which we included only the responses of students from marginalized groups—defined as racial/ethnic and religious minorities—and examine the effect of our intervention on these students’ sense of belonging and well-being. Fourth, we wanted to see if perceived social norms played an equally important role in a more natural setting and we therefore included the above-mentioned process measures in the outcome survey. As in the previous experiment, we expected the beneficial effects of the social norms video on the outcome measures to be mediated by participants’ perceptions of peer norms but not by their perceptions of the university’s commitment to diversity. In ex…
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