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Commentary On How Pop Psychology Presents Relationships

1138 words - 5 pages

The media today publishes many articles on relationships. These are often presented as advice columns or news articles and many of the writers will usually include some sort of psuedo-psychology to back up their claims. This may look good from the readers’ perspective as it attempts to provide some scientific grounding for the basis of the article; most of the time however, the ‘psychology’ presented is either misinterpreted, based on poor research, or just completely false. In this paper I will use examples of relationship psychology found in popular media and will compare them to accepted psychological theory.
Appendix I shows an article published by the Daily Mail talking about a new ...view middle of the document...

” (Sussman, 2010).
The literature around the subject of love addiction suggests to me that it may actually be a legitimate psychological condition and in that respect there is nothing wrong with the Daily Mail’s publication of the article. However, the writer has presented the information as hard fact without any real evidence to back it up other than her personal experience and a few words from apparent authorities.
Appendix II shows a blog from cosmopolitan that discusses whether or not good sex should be a deal-breaker in a relationship. The basis of the article is coming off the back of a recent survey that claims “for a fairly large number of us it goes sex first, love second, with one in four men and one in five women saying if a partner couldn't satisfy them sexually they'd end it.” No information is given as to the amount of people who were surveyed, nor who conducted the study and so it’s difficult to assess the credibility of the survey. However, research into the subject of sex in relationships has found that the timing of sex in a relationship can be a very important factor in how long the relationship lasts (Willoughby & Carroll et al., 2014). The study found that those who do not have sex on the first tend to have longer lasting relationships than those who do. This contrasts strongly with the article from cosmopolitan which suggested that it is the quality of the sex that is important in a relationship.There may be something in the claim that good sex can make relationships last longer though, as a study found that sexual activity increased the amount of oxytocin neuropeptides in male rats (Gil & Bhatt et al., 2013). Oxytocin has been found to both directly and indirectly affect pair-bonding and social interaction (Lane & Luminet et al., 2013) and so if good sex does lead to higher oxytocin levels in humans as well then there’s a chance that it good also lead to longer and/or higher quality relationships. The problem with this blog is not so much the content that is in it but the way that it is presented. There is no real evidence other than a single survey given to support the argument that forms the basis of the article, and even then the validity of this survey can be questioned because we don’t have any real information about it.
In conclusion, I have found that there are many differences between the way that psychology is presented in the media compared with academic journal articles. The main thing I noticed is that there is usually a small part of accepted scientific theory in popular media articles, but it is usually taken out of context and/or the results are misinterpreted and exaggerated. Also, media articles do not provide much evidence for the theory they are writing about. Usually there is just a quote from an ‘authorititative’ source or a survey. This is good for the media as it makes the information easier to digest while still seeming like their arguments are being validated. This is stark contrast to academic...

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