Media Production Project

--Original published at Zach Nawrocki's Blog

The age of technology has been taking over humans lives for decades now. One such branch of technology is photography. Have you ever gone on vacation and find an amazing view or monument and the first thing you do is take out a phone or camera and take a picture of it? An interesting new study in the journal, Psychological Science, suggests that taking a photo of an object may actually reduce how much you remember about the object later. Linda Henkel, author of the study and researcher in the Department of Psychology at Fairfield University states, “Taking a photograph is as easy as pointing and shooting, providing an external memory of one’s experiences.”

The first experiment in the study was comprised of a group of 27 undergraduates (6 men and 21 women) who were taken to a museum to observe objects. They were randomly split into two groups, with one set of students asked to read the name of an object, observe it for 20 seconds and then they were to take a picture of it. The second set of students was asked to read the name of the object and then to only observe it for 30 seconds.

 The next day the students where asked what they remembered from the previous day about the objects by participating in a free-recall test.  This test is a name-recognition test which consisted of the 30 objects including 10 names that were randomly intermixed among the objects and also a visual-recognition test with 10 pictures of objects that were not on the tour. From these tests the students were asked to recognize which objects where on the tour and other details about the objects, such as, “What did the warrior have in his hands?”. From the data it was found the recognition accuracy was lower for photographed objects than for observed objects and was higher when participants saw photos of the objects in the visual-recognition test.

               The second experiment conducted in the study was fairly similar to the first one with a few minor additions to make the experiment more accurate. In this experiment, a group of 46 undergraduates (10 men, 36 women) were taken to the museum and asked to observe 27 objects. This time however, they were given 25 seconds to observe the object, then an additional 5 seconds to either take a picture of the whole object or were asked to zoom in on a specific part of the object. They were also asked to only observe some objects without taking a picture of the object. Out of the 27 objects, each participate was asked to take a picture of a whole object 9 times, take a picture of a specific part of an object 9 times and to only observe an object 9 times for a total of 27 objects.

The next day the participates were asked to remember the various pieces of art (the 27 old objects and 10 objects randomly intermixed which were not on the tour). They were also asked to indicate whether they had taken a photo of the object or just observed the object. The participates were asked to rate their confidence about the details that they remembered from the objects that were observed. This experiment had some interesting results however. From the data obtained it shows that participants remembered fewer details about the objects when photos of the whole object were taken, however, participants remembered a similar amount of detail about objects when zoomed in on it compared to objects that were just observed with no photo taken. This data shows that if a person zooms in on an object, they not only remember more detail about the zoomed in part but also the object as a whole since a person has to focus more when zooming in on a picture.

This study shows several interesting facts that were concluded from the data. There is more to either taking a picture or not taking a picture that can affect your memory about an object. Thousands of photos are taken each day and many different factors go into photos including different angles, zooming in and how long you have to take a photo. All these factors can have an impact on how well a person will remember the object in the future. While this study seems professionally done it does not explain how the participants were selected so it cannot be generalized to a population. Nevertheless, remember when taking your next photo to always take another look at the view after you take a picture!


               Throughout the process I started to realize how difficult it can actually be to summarize a study with a limited about of space. Most studies (including mine) are pages long talking about how the study was performed and the results from the study. It proved difficult to pick out only the important information that can be used to explain the whole study with limited space. One item that I did leave out was the p-values that were obtained from the study. I decided to leave this out because since this is for the general population I feel as though it is not common knowledge to know what a p-value is or what they are used to show. I was still able to explain the results from the study however without the use of the p-values. Another piece that I left out except for a small part were the five critical questions of research. I decided to leave this out because the five critical questions are not common knowledge to know and some of the questions use words that not everyone might know what they mean. Nevertheless, I did include one critical question which was that since the study did not explain how they selected their participants it cannot be generalized to the population. When comparing my summary to the original news article there are several similarities and differences. Both my summary and the news article describe how the study was performed and how the data from the study was obtained and what the data meant. There are some differences as well. In my summary I go more into the detail of what tests were performed on the participants to obtain the concluding data. I also go into more detail about what that data means and the conclusions they got from the data. The news article never mentions anything about the five critical questions. Knowing that it can be difficult to include the questions into the summary, in my summary I still mentioned the one question which was that the study was not able to be generalized. Overall, while writing this summary I had to remember that it is for a general population to read which made my job of selecting what information to include and what not to include harder since some information that is used in the study is not common knowledge for most people.

While writing this summary I came to realize that we shouldn’t be so harsh on journalists because it is very difficult to include all the data that you want to include to make an article. A lot of information must be left out if you are to make the article understandable for the general public. I also realized that it is very difficult to make an article “attention grabbing”, when you read an article, journalist find ways to make even the most boring topic interesting. I find this very difficult to do being that you are talking about a study which a lot of people don’t want to read about. After writing my news article I have come to find a new appreciation for journalists and the struggles they have to go through to write an article for the public to be able to understand and find interesting.  


Original News Article –

Scholarly Article –

Media Production Project

--Original published at Emily's college blog

Many Americans believe their pets play a significant role by being part of their family, but perhaps large numbers of people do not realize their pets can also play a role in positively affecting their sleep quality and sleep routines. Researchers from the Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation at Canisius College conducted a survey to explore the impacts pets have on human sleep quality. They restricted their online survey to female participants who resided in the United States and sent the survey to previous participants who had volunteered for their other experiments while also posting the survey on their Facebook page.

The researchers collected data from 962 adult women who were living in the United States and found 55% of participants shared their bed with at least one dog, while 31% of participants shared their bed with at least one cat, and 57% of participants shared their bed with a human partner.

Through the survey questions, the researchers were able to measure the sleep components tied to sleep quality deficits, the components that show signs of sleep deprivation. If the participant’s score exceeded five of the twenty-one components, an indication of sleep quality deficits was noted. Measurements of the average wake times and bedtimes, as well as the levels of comfort, security, and disturbance from pets were also noted.

In the results, the researchers found women who shared their bed with dogs had fewer sleep disturbances, as well as stronger feelings of comfort throughout the night than women who did not share their bed with their dog. It was also found that having a dog bed partner strengthens circadian rhythms, the 24-hour sleep-wake cycle which influences important bodily functions. The researchers explained that this could be due to dogs getting up and going to bed at roughly the same time every day.

Although dogs were found to have positive effects on pet owners who allowed them to sleep in their bed, there was no correlation between cats and a good night’s sleep or stronger circadian rhythms. In fact, cats actually had negative results for being equivalent or even more disturbing than human partners during the night. Cats also do not go to bed or wake up at the same time each day, thus they have no effect on their owner’s circadian rhythms.

A few cautions should be warned when discussing the results of this survey. First, 58% of the people who participated in the survey resided in the state of New York (where the researchers had conducted the survey). Since over half of their participants resided where the researchers were doing their research, the experiment could potentially be seen as biased to outsiders, since the results are supposed to represent all the women in the United States. Secondly, the researchers for this survey announced that more research is needed in order to show a stronger relationship between the sleep quality of pet owners and their dogs.  Lastly, the researchers did not take into account the breeds of dogs that could be more likely to cause a better night’s sleep than another type of breed. For example, one breed could be known for snoring, kicking legs in their sleep, barking at noises in the middle of the night, etc.

Overall, this survey suggested an improved quality of sleep and comfort for women who shared their beds with their dogs, however, their findings did not support a strong enough relationship between dogs and sleep quality, so therefore more research is needed to better support the findings.


In my summary, I made sure to include information that would be important for answering all five critical questions for reading research. I wanted to make the research summary straightforward and easy to comprehend. This way, a non-psychologist would be able to understand the results and findings that were discussed. I did not include any p-values or the specific types of studies and methods that would be needed in order to find a stronger relationship between pets and sleep quality of humans. I did not want the reader to be confused by p-values or the numbers they represent. I also did not want to go into too much detail about what the future studies and methods would entail since it would be off topic from the summary findings.

 The news article and my summary both discussed the percentages of participants in each group, the results from pet owners who slept with dogs versus those who slept with cats, the caution of not knowing which breeds would be a better sleep partner, and who conducted the survey. The news article, however, did not include information describing the selection of participants for the study, information describing the weak relationships in the results, or information describing the 58% of participants who resided where the research took place. They also excluded how the researchers measured the sleep and comfort quality of participants. I chose to include the information that was not in the pop culture article because I think excluding those points would establish assumptions and leave some unanswered questions about the research. Specifically, the information including how the researchers measured the women’s sleep quality, how they chose the participants, and how they assigned the participants into groups allows the reader to answer the five critical questions. From knowing those details of the experiment, the reader will know the participants were not randomly assigned to the experiment and were not randomly assigned into groups.

Writing about psychology research through these three assignments, has taught me that authors have the power to influence reader conclusions by choosing to exclude relevant information. By leaving out important information or being purposely biased towards an experiment, an author is able to potentially persuade a reader to his or her point of view. Also, in order to generate more readers, an author could also exaggerate the findings from an experiment or make generalized statements. I also learned about the difficulties associated with writing pop culture news articles. If a study is complex and requires some background knowledge in the field, it can be challenging for the author to write a short, engaging article for the reader to understand. Lastly, I learned to look for the critical questions in news articles discussing research experiments. If the article is missing adequate information to answer the questions, perhaps it is not a reliable source. Writing my own pop culture article demonstrated the power authors have in order to persuade viewpoints and generate readers, while also showing me the hard work in selecting information for the article as well as being aware of information a common reader will not understand.


Coren, Stanley. “Do Women Get Better Sleep Next to a Person or a Dog?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 24 Jan. 2019,, 27 January 2019.

Hoffman, Christy L., Stutz, Kaylee, and Vasilopoulos, Terri. “An Examination of Adult Women’s Sleep Quality and Sleep Routines in Relation to Pet Ownership and Bedsharing.” Anthrozoös, Routledge, 13 November 2018, DOI: 10.1080/08927936.2018.1529354, 15 March 2019.

Does Social Media Cause Depression in Young Adults?

--Original published at Ally'sCollegeBlog

Social media, and its affects on students, have been studied over the years. Does screen time increase the probability of depression? Is social media a good or bad thing? as well as thousands of other questions have been asked. A research team of five psychologists, have dipped their toes into the unknown waters. The team consists of Taylor Heffer, Owen Daly, and Elliott MacDonell of Brock University as well as Marie Good of Redeemer University College. Using longitudinal studies, or data collected over a period of time, the researchers were able to study a group of people for the course of two years. They took students from sixth grade to freshmen in college in Ontario, Canada, and asked them a series of questions about their social media use. The researchers used two categories for these questions. One was weekend usage and the other, weekday. They then did a mental health assessment. They studied After studying the data, the team concluded that social media does not cause depression overtime in young adults or children. Some students might have a different outcome than this because of their environment or preexisting mental health. Of course this is a new field of research so this data may be contradicted in the future. It can be very difficult to examine any unknown factors and variables.


I always like diving deep into the subjects I research and that can be very beneficial in the long run. You can see both sides of an argument and get a more scientific outlook. Many news sites, such as buzzfeed, have short articles and the pages are filled with advertisements rather than factual information. I respect journalists because their job is so rigorous. Between having to sift through the information and trying to formulate an article in simple terms, it can be extremely difficult to come to correct conclusions and have an unbiased stance. I found the same hardship when writing my story. I tried to keep my article short and sweet because there was so much complex psychology terms and subjects that are difficult to but into simpler words. I never thought it would be that difficult but because of the word minimum, I was torn with what to include. Some information was too hard to explain, it was too scientific to understand.

I did not include specific information about the study such as how they obtained their participants. I had to excluded their search for the participants because it was too lengthy to include. I also excluded their full findings. There was a lot of mathematics and correlation studies that I left out because I thought it was too complex and not easily understandable. There were so many numbers, variables, and schematics that I did not even really understand. Other than those few pieces, I did not leave out anything super important. Of course the original study was fifteen pages I had a paragraph, but the majority of that paper is what I said I left out.

I found that this was a very difficult assignment because I like including details and expanding on things I have wrote about. I have a lot of more sympathy for journalists because it is their job to dive into the information and sift through it. I have taken a lot from this assignment. My mindset has shifted and I know understand what journalists, editors, and anyone who has to write about a lengthy subject. I am very happy that this assignment is included in our curriculum because it can shift someone’s mindset and help open the door to journalism. Without this blog post and the other previous writing assignments, I would not understand what journalists go through.


Mikulak, Anna. Data Shows No Evidence That Teens’ Social Media Use Predicts Depression Over Time, January 30, 2019,

Heffer, Taylor, et al. “The Longitudinal Association Between Social-Media Use and Depressive Symptoms Among Adolescents and Young Adults: An Empirical Reply to Twenge Et Al. (2018).” Clinical Psychological Science, 2019, pp. 1-9., doi:10.1177/2167702618812727

Media Production Project

--Original published at Voltage Blog

A group of researchers took part in a study to figure out if rocking while sleeping helps make for a better night of sleep. Eighteen participants in their 20s were randomly selected to perform in this study. They were asked to take part in a night of stationary sleep and a night of continuous rocking with very similar environments. The study observed changes in the sleep patterns such as spindles and how quickly they were able to transition into each stage of sleep. The study found that the rocking at a 0.42hz increased the time in the deepest part of sleep and also helped with their memory. The participants were asked to complete a memory test before they fell asleep and again after they woke up. They were also asked complete a questionnaire about their sleep quality for that night. Most people will believe that having just a small little motion during their sleep will have practically no impact. The participants thought so as well until after the night of rocking. After spending a night in a stationary bed and a night in the rocking bed, the participants said they thought being in the rocking bed was one of the best nights of sleep they ever had.

By being rocked in your sleep, you will have few micro arousals. These small arousals disrupt continuous sleep and force the brain to break away from sleep even if it is just for a brief moment. Arousal density was 60% lower during the deepest part of sleep on the rocking night compared to the stationary night. These disruptions are able to add up over the whole night which disturbs your sleep cycle. The rocking also helped contribute to a shorter time transitioning into the different stages of the sleep cycle. It takes about six minutes less overall to transition into the deeper sleep while on the rocking bed. The rocking also contributed to an increase in sleep spindles. These spindles represent a particular type of brain wave that occurs during sleep, specifically during stage two of the sleep cycle. This difference between stationary and rocking may appear to be small, but this can occur multiple times a night making for a better night of sleep. Most participants woke up after the night of rocking and performed better on the written memory test than they did after the stationary night.


While writing this blog post, I felt that it was considerably more difficult trying to translate the research document into a more suitable form for the general public. I thought that it was hard to not write every little detail about the research that I could. I did not write about all the values of everything they found in their data. At first I thought this was very needed information for a research article, but now I find it pretty irrelevant when trying to explain a whole research study to a general audience. If I had included these values all over my post, I think that the reader would have gotten lost very quickly and not have known what I was talking about. I kept in mind the five critical questions about a research study while I wrote this post. My thoughts about authors writing about research studies has changed after having to write one myself. I have more empathy towards them now then when I first read the article. Having to read through the study and trying to understand everything they were talking about was hard enough. Having to translate it into simpler terms was even harder. The most difficult part was trying to pick out the most relevant information about the study without it being too specific. Trying to keep it simple and understandable was a challenging, but if I did not, then the audience would lose interest in reading the rest of the article very quickly. When I first read through the article and critiqued on it earlier in the year, I felt that the article was lacking in a lot of crucial data. I was questioning the authenticity of the whole article and was wondering where all the actual data was. By not including any values, it makes it easier to understand and easier to get hooked into the article. Most, if not all journalists, have to stick to a specific format and have only a small space to work with when writing any type of article. After reading through the source material though, I discovered that the author had to make a lot of tough choices and be very concise on what words they used for the article. Understanding what journalists have to deal with on a daily basis will be very helpful when reading articles in the future. I will think more about the study that they are writing about and look for the five critical questions of a study.

Media Production Project

--Original published at Ben's PSY105 Blog

New Study Finds Possible Link Between Blood Pressure Treatment and Preventing Dementia

In today’s world, almost everyone has had their life impacted by dementia. Dementia is the severe mental decline lots of people experience as they get older. Whether it be a parent, grandparent, friend, or neighbor dementia has touched almost everyone in one way or another. Watching someone you know slowly fade away and become a shell of themselves is devastating. About 9.9 million people develop dementia every year. As of now, there is no cure for dementia. For the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, there is no treatment to even slow the development. This new study has given a glimmer of hope of finding a possible preventative treatment for dementia.

The Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) study aimed to see how lowering a patient’s systolic blood pressure (the top number) to a more intensive target of 120 mm Hg rather than the standard 140 mm Hg affected the patient’s cardiovascular health as well as mental health. The study involved over 9,300 patients over 50 with hypertension, which is defined as systolic blood pressure over 130 mm Hg, and no history of stroke or diabetes. According to the American Heart Association, over 100 million Americans have high blood pressure. The patients were randomly assigned to the treatment groups. The study took place over five years from 2010 to 2015. The study found the more intensive treatment lowered the risk of cardiovascular events by 25% and the risk of death by 27%.

The cognitive portion of the study, SPRINT Memory and Cognition IN Decreased Hypertension (SPRINT MIND), looked at how the intensive treatment affected patients’ cognitive functioning after the treatment ended. Over 8,500 of the patients participated in at least one cognitive follow-up assessment. The study aimed primarily to see if the intensive treatment had any impact on the development of “probable dementia” in the patients. Of the 4,278 patients treated with the intense treatment, 149 had developed probable dementia. In the group treated with the standard treatment, 176 out of 4,285 had developed probable dementia. While there were fewer in the intensive group, it was not a statistically significant amount.

The secondary outcome of the SPRINT MIND study looked at the development of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) in patients. While MCI is not considered to impact the daily life of someone who has it, it often leads to dementia later in life. Up to 60% of patients diagnosed MCI went on to develop dementia within ten years, and everyone who has dementia had MCI first. The researchers used a series of progressive tests to determine whether the patient had MCI. The results of the study showed 287 patients in the intensive treatment group had developed MCI while 353 patients in the standard treatment group developed MCI.  Based on these results, the researchers concluded the patients treated with the intensive treatment were 19% less likely to develop MCI. While this was only applicable to the patients over 50 with hypertension and no history of stroke or diabetes, it is still promising since preventing MCI is effectively preventing dementia.

The study showed the results the researchers were after in the cardiovascular portion of the study but not the cognitive portion. Despite not having significant results in the cognitive portion, they were still able to find hope of reducing dementia. Dr. Jeff Williamson, the lead researcher, has begun offering intensive treatment to his patients because of the cardiovascular benefits and the 19% decrease in the likelihood of MCI. Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a neurology professor at the University of California, on the other hand, is not ready to replace the standard treatment with then intensive method yet. She acknowledged the hope it gives to one day find an effective treatment or prevention method for dementia, but she wants to see more research done on the cognitive impact of intensive blood pressure treatment.  Thanks to funding from the Alzheimer’s Association, the SPRINT MIND study will continue for two more years. The researchers hope the results will be more significant by the end since dementia takes a long time to develop.


In writing this article, the most difficult part was simplifying the terminology into a vocabulary which could be more easily understood by the general public. The medical jargon used in the academic paper made sense but only with background knowledge of the terms being used. For example, most people wouldn’t be able to tell you what their systolic blood pressure is, but if you ask them for the top number of their blood pressure, they would be more likely to be able to give an answer. Lots of people have a general knowledge of their personal health, but not many people have the experience to understand what their numbers mean. Along with simplifying the language, I also had to decide which information was the most necessary to include. To do so I looked for information that pertained directly to how the results of the study matter. The scientific paper featured a lot of the logistics of the study. I had to put enough information to satisfy the critical questions in reading research but not too much to overwhelm the reader with nothing but numbers. Even trying to make the research more accessible, I still had to try to make sure to answer the five critical questions for reading research studies.

Along with simplifying the academic paper into a more accessible language, I also cut out some filler from the NYTimes article. A sizable portion of the article was commentary from Dr. Jeff Williamson, the lead researcher of the SPRINT study, and Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a neurology professor at the University of California. The pair shared an opinion on the findings offering hope for finding a treatment or preventative method for dementia. The pair disagreed, however, on how the results should impact current treatment methods. Dr. Yaffe believes there is still a lot of research to be done before making the intensive treatment the standard method of blood pressure reduction. Dr. Williamson has begun offering his patients the intensive method, telling them it lowers the chance of mild cognitive impairment by 19%. It was important to have the expert opinions, but the NYTimes article focused on the commentary almost as much as the results of the study.

This assignment made me respect journalists more. Until this, I never considered the amount of work which goes into writing an article reporting on a scientific journal. I always felt like they were easy, based on the typical brevity. I took the condensing of the information for granted. Deciding what needs to be in the articles and what should be cut is a difficult task. Adding to the work of getting expert opinions on the findings makes it even more impressive. In the future, I will make sure to keep all of this in mind when critiquing news articles.  


Belluck, P. (2019, January 28). Study Offers Hint of Hope for Staving Off Dementia in Some People. New York Times. Retrieved February 2, 2019, from

The SPRINT MIND Investigators for the SPRINT Research Group. Effect of Intensive vs Standard Blood Pressure Control on Probable Dementia: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2019;321(6):553–561. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.21442

How Sleep Affect’s College Students Success

--Original published at JanellesCollegeBlog

It is known by many that a common problem among college students is the amount of sleep they get. Students are encouraged to be involved in sports, clubs, and other activities on campus, but this involvement can cause students to not get the proper amount of sleep. Involvement in activities takes time away from doing homework and studying. If students choose to be involved in activities and therefore stay up late to get school work done this can be a problem. The question is, how big of a problem is it?

According to a study done by Monica E. Hartmann and J. Roxanne Prichard, there is a 10% increase in the chance of dropping a course for each additional night per week a student experiences sleep problems. The baseline chance of dropping a course was not included in the research article. The study also showed a student’s overall GPA decreases by 0.02 for each additional night a week that they have sleep problems. This means just one night a week with sleep problems could have a tremendous effect on a college student’s overall success. Therefore, students should not spend one night a week, let alone every night, as some do, staying up late to study or get work done.

The research study obtained information from randomly selected college students at several universities who were undergraduates and under the age of twenty-five. Variables such as whether students had learning disabilities, how much time they spent working, and whether they had a psychological disorder diagnosis were controlled in the study. There were some limitations to the study, which means there were some components of the study that could have affected the results. The information used in the study was self-reported by the participants. This means some people may have reported higher amounts of sleep than they typically get, while others may have reported less. People’s definitions of sleep problems could also vary widely. Another limitation was participants in the study were heavily female, and overall academically more successful students.

The participants were asked four specific questions to get an idea about their sleep habits, and possible sleep problems. These questions included things such as when they fell asleep, how they slept throughout the night, and how they felt throughout the next day based on the amount of sleep they got the night before.

Information collected in the study showed poor sleep can have a negative effect on student’s performance in school, specifically their GPA and chances of dropping a course, but not getting enough sleep can lead to other problems as well. Examples of possible problems include an increased chance of getting sick, psychological disorders becoming noticeable, and a greater chance of partaking in possibly dangerous situations such as substance use and unprotected sex.

Many universities focus on other issues such as drug use and binge drinking, but do not focus on sleep problems. Sleep problems can have the same or greater effects on academic performance as these more publicized issues. This is a problem because student’s may be doing all they can to not engage in the dangerous activities that are focused on, while they do not know their sleep habits are having a poor effect on their performance as well. Despite students wanting the opportunity to learn about sleep problems on their campuses, many schools do not provide students with this information. It is critically important for first-year students to get this information as the chances of them dropping a course are 40% greater than other undergraduates. If universities can give students information about sleep as soon as they come to campus it could eliminate problems that these students have later in their college career due to poor sleep.


Overall, I found it difficult to summarize the whole research article and follow the word count restriction. Although all the information in the original research article is important for readers of pop culture sources to know, I as the journalist, had to determine what was most important. I chose to include more specific details that related to the five critical questions. I left out information that seemed to be filler information which could be said in a shorter summary than was presented in the research article.

One of my main focuses when writing my summary of the research article was answering the five critical questions as these are important to readers. Regarding the first critical question, I did define what a college student was in the study, while the pop culture article did not. Although I defined this variable I did not define sleep problems very specifically, and this could lead to some confusion by readers. I think even among participants this could be a vary widely interpreted variable. Another difference between my summary and the news article was that I explained how participants were randomly selected from several colleges and the news article did not. I could have been more specific about the colleges where students were chosen from, but I felt that this was a detail that I could omit. According to the five critical questions though, I believe I should have included this detail to clarify the information for readers. The participants of the study were not assigned to groups and therefore, neither my summary nor the news article could answer the question of how participants were assigned to groups. Another similarity between my summary and the pop culture news article was that they do not allow for causal claims. It is not apparent in either article that random assignment was used because as was mentioned before, it does not seem as though participants were assigned to groups. Findings discussed in my summary could be generalized to students at the universities included in the study because I included how random selection was used in the study. Readers of the news article could not generalize conclusions to any population. Another similarity between my summary and the NY Times article is that they both include specifically selected details to keep the length to a minimum.

After writing my own summary of the research article for the media production project I understand how hard it is for journalists covering psychology research to write a short article about a long, and sometimes complicated research study. I also understand why pop culture articles cannot include all information that is necessary for readers to answer the five critical questions. Before completing the media production project, I thought it was foolish of the journalist of the NY Times article to not include answers to so many of the critical questions. I felt as though she was not telling the whole story, but now I understand she probably tried to get across what she felt was most important for readers to know. From the scholarly article critique I know that research articles contain answers to many more of the five critical questions than do pop culture sources. I learned if you need more information on a topic that you read about in a popular source it is important to go back to the original source because the information you are looking for can probably be found there. After completing these three assignments I now have much more respect for the work that journalists do summarizing large psychology research studies.

Works Cited

Brody, Jane E. “An Underappreciated Key to College Success: Sleep.” The New York Times. 13 Aug. 2018,

Hartmann, Monica E., and J. Roxanne Prichard. “Calculating the Contribution of Sleep Problems to Undergraduates Academic Success.” Sleep Health, vol. 4, no. 5, Oct. 2018, pp. 463–471., doi:10.1016/j.sleh.2018.07.002.’_academic_success

Media Production Project

--Original published at Kaity Takes on Psychology

A study by researchers from Northwestern University recently published their research on how students in low socio-economic families can be influenced to work harder and overcome academic challenges when they associate doing well in school with obtaining upward mobility later in life. Basing their information from three separate studies, the data from each experiment displays a connection between a strong belief in financial success and doing well in school.

The first study evaluated a group of high school students from a low SES (socio-economic status) background based on whether they believe upward mobility is possible for them, and how motivated they are to succeed academically. Researchers found the students with a stronger belief in being successful later in life obtained higher grades than their peers with pessimistic attitudes about upward mobility.

Study two was conducted on a group of college students, who were asked to complete an academic puzzle, specifically unscramble a series of letters and attempt to form as many words as they could in three minutes. They were surveyed about their perception on upward mobility, and asked to include their family’s household income. The second study found students with lower-SES who were influenced to have a strong belief of socioeconomic mobility tried harder during the academic test than their peers with weaker beliefs.

The final study was done on high school freshmen, who were divided into three groups. Each group was given a different result of a study on economic mobility: the first study claims it is possible, the second study showed it was difficult, and the third group was given nothing so they could be a control group. The students were assessed on the grades they earned since the start of the study. Like the previous studies, the annual family income of each student was taken into consideration to determine people’s socio-economic status. The data from the third study yielded similar results to the other experiments: students of low socio-economic status were more motivated than their affluent peers when told economic mobility was a possibility for them.

My rewrite of the pop culture article included the way the experiments were done, because I personally was not a fan of the initial article for omitting the information about the studies. I think the original article would have been better if the journalist from Science Daily assessed the way the studies were done and showed the audience how the research team obtained their information and did their experiments. I feel the study was well done, but the journalist from Science Daily wrote the article with the intentions to focus on the pop culture aspect of journalism.

I left out most the fluff found in the original article. They chose all their samples based on schools who harbored many low socioeconomic families. I believe the experiment does not allow for causal claims because it was done three times in three separate scenarios. The variables were operationalized by putting participants in certain groups. I do not think the conclusions were generalized because it was done three times. The participants were randomly selected from a group of low socio-economic students.

Throughout the past semester, I was tasked with finding a pop culture article, analyzing the research from the original scholarly article, and now rewriting the pop culture article in my own words. Reading each article gave me a better sense of the various forms of writing that are necessary in the field of psychology. Pop culture articles are designed to be read and comprehended by an audience which generally does not understand jargon and technical terms in psychology. Likewise, the original research article stems from the scientific community seeking to expand our body of knowledge, and thus requires understanding certain lingo to interpret what the researchers are trying to demonstrate.

Journalists in the field of psychology seek to educate the average person by presenting the research found by professionals in the field in a way that can be easily understood by anyone. The topic of psychology has a wide umbrella of subjects, like clinical, cognitive, developmental, and behavioral psychology. Each field contains mountains of information which must be analyzed, researched, and shared in the community among scholars and students alike.

The article I have been analyzing and using as my muse for this project blends both developmental and cognitive psychology. Through implementing the idea that someone from a low SES family can be a better student by believing in economic mobility, modern society may be able to impact the lives of many folks.

Rocking to Sleep

--Original published at Grace's College Blog

Though the reasons why we sleep are unknown, we do know how to make our sleep the most beneficial to our bodies. In a study in the journal Current Biology, “Whole-Night Continuous Rocking Entrains Spontaneous Neural Oscillations with Benefits for Sleep and Memory,” they observed people sleeping in a rocking bed. All of the participants were already healthy sleepers and with the rocking bed, their sleeping actually improved! We know we are affected by external stimuli while sleeping because we wake up to our alarms, loud sounds, and people shaking us awake. So, it is possible for rocking to affect our sleep as well.

Rocking something when it is in distress is instinctive in humans. We do it for babies and sometimes even animals. Often for infants, parents will rock them to calm them and help them sleep. The goal of this study was to see if rocking would help adults as well. First, they had participants sleep in the bed without rocking to monitor their brain waves during a regular night of sleep. Then participants slept in the same bed while it was rocking continuously throughout the night. The study also contained a control group that only slept without the rocking.

One theory for why we sleep is for memory consolidation, rocking not only improved overall sleep, it also improved said memory. Participants were given a memory test every night and morning. Researchers also tested how reaction times were affected by pressing a button as soon as an image appeared on a screen. Overall, there was an improvement in all aspects of the study.

When reading research, there are five important questions to ask yourself to guarantee a true experiment:

  1. How did they operationalize their variables, how did they define them? In this study they measured how “well” you slept by measuring your brain waves and memory consolidation as well as reaction times with various tests.
  2. How did they select participants? Researchers selected participants who were in good health with no history of drug or alcohol abuse and reported no irregular sleep-wake cycles.
  3. How did they assign participants to groups? In order to have a true experiment (that allows for the next question) you must assign participants randomly to groups. In this study they successfully assigned participants to a group with rocking beds and to a group with identical beds, without rocking.
  4. Does the method used allow for causal claims, a cause and effect relationship? In order to argue a cause and effect relationship, you must have participants assigned randomly, which has been done! The researchers can argue that the rocking allowed for a better nights sleep.
  5. Are the conclusions generalized to the right population? In this study, they generalized the results to all adults, when they tested young adults between the ages of 2o and 27. Though this can only be applied to healthy sleepers already.

Ask yourself these questions when you see an article about any new research study you read about. It can help you to narrow down any false generalizations and incorrect claims made.

This study was done as a follow up study to a study that experimented with rocking beds and shorter naps. Participants in that study fell asleep faster and had overall better brain activity. Another follow up study was done with researching the effect of rocking stimulation on other species, specifically mice. Studies continue to be done on sleep because the reasons are still unknown and only theories.

So want to improve your sleep? Invest in a rocking bed and sleep like a baby.


After writing my own pop culture article about this sleep study, I understand how difficult it can be to transpose. The original study was often very confusing and difficult to read because of the terms I did not know. It was filled with information about the neuroscience of sleep and paraphrasing proved to be difficult. I understand issues that may arise for journalists when writing these articles for readers who may not have heard of anything in the original report. After critiquing the pop article, I learned how much simpler it was to understand the study after reading an article about it, rather than the original report. A lot of studying must be done and rereading of the report. I had to read the report many times when doing my scholarly article critique because it was filled with numbers, acronyms, and terms I had never heard of. I spent a lot of time looking up the definition of words related to neuroscience and sleep. After attempting to write my own pop culture summary of the study, I have a newfound respect for journalists making their articles as easily understandable as possible while still making the results of the study clear.

In my summary I chose to include most of the general ideas of the study and tried to stray away from using any terms that I did not know previously. After reading my pop culture article, I noticed it was very thorough in its description of the study and included connections to things that people reading the article could relate to. The article was over 1000 words so I felt it was important to include as much as I could. In the news article they do not mention anything about the legitimacy of the experiment with the five critical questions. Which the readers would have to find in the study report. Because of the length, I felt it important to answer those questions when reading research. I think that by including them in my article, readers may be more inclined to think of those questions next time they read a pop culture article. It also helps the reader to understand some of the important aspects of what goes into a research study.

In the news article, many connections were made between pop culture and the science behind the study. They mentioned the Mother Goose stories about rocking your baby. As well as a recent pop song called Rock-a-Bye Baby, that talks about motherhood. Making these connections in the article I thought added to the pop culture aspects of the article and drew more readers in. The article also mentioned other studies of the same caliber. A study was done previous to this with napping and one was done after, testing the same rocking motion on mice. I included the mention of these other studies because I felt it would gauge interest.

Original Report of the Study: Perrault et al., Whole-Night Continuous Rocking Entrains Spontaneous Neural Oscillations with Benefits for Sleep and Memory, Current Biology (2018)

News Article: “The Neuroscience of ‘Rock-a-Bye Baby’ and Rocking Adult Beds.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 26 Jan. 2019

Rocking While Sleeping Could Benefit Sleep Quality and Memory

--Original published at Victoria's Psych Blog

A recent study found that adults in their twenties sleep better while rocking. The University of Geneva study tested eighteen volunteer participants to sleep monitored on a stationary and .25 hertz rocking bed (Perrault et. al ). The conclusions of the study were that volunteers had better memory recall and better sleep quality with the rocking bed. Rocking movement replicates the feeling of being in the room which decreases amount of time falling asleep. With better quality sleep, memory improves because of brain working on memory storage during sleep. Although the study had unique findings, there is more action required before going out an buying an expensive rocking bed. The study was done on healthy young individuals and mimicked a previously done study on naps. It is critical to have the study repeated with specially selected people in the same manner in order to make a claim from the study. It is important to have the selected people to be random people in society to be representative of an entire population or else there can be no scientific claim for an entire society. During the study, variables were consistent through the entire thing. Each participant slept two nights in the lab, one in the stationary bed and one in the rocking bed. The volunteers were monitored for consistent sleeping patterns a week before the start of the study and spent the two nights in the lab on randomly assigned days. The experiment days were kept consistent with same about of noise, bed size and amount of rocking. Memory was tested using word pairing activities before participants fall asleep and when they wake up. Sleep quality was measured by amount of brain activity while sleeping. The amount of brain activity indicates which stage of the sleep cycle the person is in and how deep their sleep is. Study found that REM was not affected, the rest of the cycle was deeper with the rocking. This study is a significant start to more research done to help people get better quality in their daily lives.


The research project did not really change my perspective of journalists, but it did teach me how challenging it is. Writing my own summary was challenging because I had to water my summary down so the average person could understand it. I omitted the sleep oscilations and spindles because it would most likely make the reader have to look it up. Having to do additional research would be discouraging to a lot of people. Other than making the article summary easier to understand, I thought it was easier to do. I used about half of the words my original article did and I think that is because I did not include any commentary from other professionals in the field. My perspective on journalism did not change much because I do not think many of journalists are unbiased and knowledgeable in the subject they are writing on most of the time. I know I have a very critical view on journalism, but I still have a lot of respect for journalists. They are constantly criticized by people like myself and it is really hard to write a summary for average people to understand. While I did not like Scutti’s original article on the study, I did gain some respect for her because she has a hard job to summarize a twelve-page report in 700 words and in plain English. The first part of this assignment was the easiest part for me to write because I am a very analytical person and think critically of every article I read. Reading the original report on the study was the hardest part of the project. The original report used a lot of terminology I was unfamiliar with and it was hard to understand the graphs. My new summary of the article was medium difficulty to me due to writing it in simple terms. Although the entire project as a whole was not extremely difficult, it did teach me how to use perspective and critical thinking reading a news article. I forget that news articles have a word or character count due to limited space on a newspaper. I also forget that not everyone has a good understanding on certain topics like sleep, so it is vital to make it easy to understand. I think that the project will benefit me more than just reading articles better. It will benefit my future in psychology as well because I will need to be very empathic to others and perspective plays a big part of empathy.


Scutti, Susan. “Adults Could Rock Themselves to Better Sleep and Memories, Study Says.”
CNN. Cable News Network, 24 January 2019. Web. Accessed 26 March 2019.

Perrault et al., Whole-Night Continuous Rocking Entrains Spontaneous Neural Oscillations with
Benefits for Sleep and Memory, Current Biology (2018),

Media Production

--Original published at Allison's Psych Blog

Is not sleeping enough a factor in contracting Alzheimer’s Disease? Researchers did a study to determine if being sleep deprived increases levels of tau, eventually leading to being diagnosed with the disease. Tau is a cytoplasmic protein in neurons that spreads in structures such as tangles in diseases like Alzheimer’s, and it is known that neural synaptic strength is higher in wakefulness, so the study was conducted to see if wakefulness had an effect on the amount of the protein produced in the brain’s interstitial fluid (ISF) in mice and in humans. First, tau levels were measured in the hippocampal ISF of wild mice. It was found that during the period of the sleep cycle where the mice spend most of their sleeping time compared to the dark period of the cycle where they spend their time awake, ISF levels increased 2-fold in the dark period. Hours after the light period of the sleep cycle, the mice were forced to stay awake, and showed an increase in tau levels produced whereas, mice kept awake during the dark period did not show an increase in tau levels. With the results showing increasing tau levels in mice, the question remained whether this was true in humans. Sleep deprivation increased levels of tau in humans by 50%. Next, human tau was injected into mice to determine the long term effects. The mice were exposed to 28 days of sleep deprivation, and it was found that the tau was not altered in the hippocampus, but it was in fact spread to a region of the brain synaptically connected to the hippocampus. While these mice were being assessed for 28 days, a control group of mice was also being kept awake under these conditions without the injection of tau to act as a control. The conclusion was made that tau in mice and humans is strongly increased by sleep deprivation, showing that changes in the sleep-wake cycle can result in rapid changes of tau production. The conclusion answers the question that there may be a possible relationship between being sleep deprived and being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.


Summarizing these articles was a challenge, as there is so much information in the studies that should be said to let the reader know exactly what is going on and being studied. There were parts in both articles that had information vital to the hypothesis, but were only mentioned one time with their results, and not looked at again throughout the writing. The parts mentioned talked about how there was another protein called amyloid that also spread with sleep deprivation, but was only mentioned once or twice, and did not seem vital to the research, as tau was the essential protein being studied. I also chose to not mention the five critical questions in my summary. Reading both of the articles, I noticed that there was no mention of some of the questions at all. The population studied for the research, besides the rats, was not expressed as to how the researchers chose them. This is critical in a research study, not only to find out who was studied, but for the reader to possibly connect to the research, if those chosen have qualities the reader may have. The groups were also not defined when it came to the human subjects. It was not mentioned whether there was a control, or if different types of injections were used, whether it be tau or amyloid. Because of this, the article did not allow for causal claims and does not seem to generalized to the right audience, due to not knowing who their population was that was being tested. Overall, writing a summary of two very in depth articles is a very hard thing to do, by picking what to say out of everything, you are what the reader is relying on. Journalists have a very important job to get all of the information across as possible without making the article to long or too hard for someone to understand. Fitting it all into one small summary is definitely difficult, and makes me appreciate writers a little bit more.