TITLE

Public (Mis)understanding of News about Behavioral Genetics Research: A Survey Experiment

AUTHOR(S)
Morin-Chassé, Alexandre
PUB. DATE
December 2014
SOURCE
BioScience;Dec2014, Vol. 64 Issue 12, p1170
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Discoveries from the field of behavioral genetics regularly appear in the mainstream news media. Although science journalists generally present reliable reports of these research findings, the way this information is interpreted by the public remains unclear. In the current study, I examined this issue using a blinded randomized controlled experiment implemented using a Web survey. In total, 1413 American subjects were exposed to one of three published news articles: one covering cancer genetics and the two others covering recent findings from behavioral genetics research. The results indicate that both treatments inadvertently contribute to increasing subjects’ impression that genetics also influence other orientations, skills, and behaviors that are at best loosely related to the content of the news. This finding highlights an important paradox: The dissemination of news about behavioral genetics unintentionally induces unfounded beliefs that are not supported by the scientific evidence presented, therefore going against the educational purpose of science reporting.
ACCESSION #
99750959

 

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