Mainstream Media News vs Scholarly Articles on Psychology - Essay Prowess

Mainstream Media News vs Scholarly Articles on Psychology

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Mainstream Media News vs Scholarly Articles on Psychology

Mainstream Article
            The mainstream article that this paper analyses is titled, “The Importance of Sleep For Muscle Growth and Recovery”, (Belous, 2020). As the title suggests, the article speaks about why sleep is important for human beings and focuses mostly on its effect on muscles. It begins by explaining the biological process thorough which energy is produced in our cells and how muscles utilize this energy. The author, Alex Belous, addresses the general public especially to people who are physically active. The article also discusses the link between weight loss and sleep and provides several behaviors to avoid in order to get a healthy amount and quality of sleep. In a bid to explain the processes through which sleep affects muscle growth, the article provides an example of a workout plan focusing on the upper body and introduces a few concepts to this end based on a scholarly research study. The article is relatively short and uses language that is easy to understand. The tone is clear and concise and even addresses the readers personally while posing questions to them. Additionally, the layout includes, highlighted text, bold font, illustrations and images to capture the reader’s interest. One expectation from the title of the article is that the author addresses the need for publishing the article i.e. whether it solves a social or modern problem, the different states of sleep states, different muscle types, and a convincing conclusion that sleep does in fact impact on muscle development.

Scholarly Article
            The mainstream article is mainly based on a peer-reviewed study conducted on university students in China in order to evaluate the link between muscle strength and sleep (Chen, Cui, Chen & Wu, 2017). The article is published by a scientific journal and the authors seem to be addressing people who have astute knowledge in the neuronal and musculoskeletal field. The authors hypothesize that since short or poor sleeping habits are linked to a higher probability for loss of muscle mass, then they might also have an impact on muscle strength. The study involved thousands of university students aged between sixteen to thirty years whose muscle strength and sleep duration and quality were measured. Hand grip strength was used to represent muscle strength and measured using a dynamometer while a questionnaire was used to determine the sleep parameters. This study can be categorized as applied research that uses empirical methods to investigate the phenomenon in question through solution-oriented investigations. It is also a correlational study that involves examining the association between two variables. After taking confounding aspects into consideration, a positive link between muscle strength and sleep quality was observed in the test subjects. Men who slept for shorter durations were observed to have weak muscles. No link was established for the same in female students. The study concludes that high quality sleep is linked to better muscle strength and vice versa. The article uses a lot of medical jargon and has a methodical and serious tone to it.

Psychological Application
            The authors of the scholarly article rely on some psychological approaches in their presentation of the study to the readers. The article uses cognitive psychology to make logical inferences, assumptions, considerations in order to draw reliable conclusions from the results of the study. Cognitive psychology is concerned with the brain’s mental processes such as perception, language, learning, problem-solving and thinking. Studies on cognitive psychology have had practical implications in real life. The findings from these studies have been used to investigate how people approach treatments to psychological stresses. The hypothesis stated in this article is of a logical nature; if lack of quality sleep has been linked to a high probability for muscle mass loss, them the reverse may be true. From this premise, the authors then designed a cross-sectional exercise to prove this theory. First, all participants had to go through a physical examination to determine who was fit to participate in the study. Those with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases or physical disabilities were excluded. The participants were then measured for sleep quality and duration by filling a questionnaire with sleep related queries. On sleep quality, the parameters included a five-point scale based on problems with commencing and maintaining sleep. The duration of sleep was evaluated by self-timing and reporting. Use of hypnotics was also accounted for. A dynamometer was then used to measure grip strength that would represent muscle strength. The analysis used the highest force recorded for each participant. After considering other variables, the data was statistically analyzed using specialized software.
            Humans are rational beings. The ability to reason is a critical aspect of rationality. We build mental models of separate possibilities then draw conclusions based on them. Cognitive scientists have continually analyzed how the brain implements these processes and have come up with some facts about human reasoning. People with no logic training are still able to make logical inferences, people have different reasoning levels which can be accounted for by other factors such as academic background and increasingly complex inferences require more processing capacity (Johnson-Laird, 2010). The above facts have all been taken into consideration in the scholarly articles. The breakdown of the methodology is designed such that the reader can distinguish the logical arrangement of the hypothesis and use logical rules to verify a conclusion.
            The study also invokes the age-old psychological mind-body problem which concerns itself with the relationship between body and mind. Humans possess mental properties such as emotion and perception and also physical properties such as shape, color and weight. This psychological problem considers these two aspects, is one a sub-category of the other such that all physical states are mental or the reverse, or are they entirely separate from each other? Materialists propose that mental states are simply physical attributes. They tend to explain the characteristics of the mental states in their ability to influence behavior. Idealists on the other hand pose that physical states are simply mental attributes. Finally, dualists state that both these states are real and that none conforms to the other. In summary, this problem exists because both states seem different from each other and there exists no convincing agreement on how to uniquely represent creatures with both states, a body and a mind. This study encapsulates this problem perfectly. Assuming sleep to be a mental state and muscle strength to be a physical one, this study takes an idealist stand on the mind-body problem by concluding that sleep is linked to better muscle strength.

Comparisons
            The mainstream news article though based on a scientific study is shorter and written in simplified language in order to cater for the interests of the general public. In so doing, a lot of pertinent information is left out. The mainstream news article does not state the objectives of the article nor does it propose a hypothesis to investigate, unlike the research article. This makes it harder for a reader to quickly relate the article to a practical issue that may be affecting them or someone they know. The methodology included in the original study is systematically laid out with identifiable techniques for selecting, processing and assessing information about a specific topic. This enables the reader to critically assess the article’s reliability and validity. The popular article completely disregards the methodology. In fact, in order to examine how sleep affects muscle growth, the author proposes his own example of an upper body workout in order to understand how muscle mechanisms work. The characteristics of the participants such as gender, age and physical status are not published. This example is theoretical in its approach and no evidence is given on the claims posed. In doing so, the author introduces the ‘training to failure’ concept that is not covered in the original study. No citations are given, further highlighting some validity issues. The findings of the popular article conclude that sleeping for adequate durations is important for muscle growth. This is an oversimplification of the original study which additionally states that sleep quality is also a crucial factor in muscle strength and that no link was observed between the duration of sleep and muscle strength in female participants. The reason for the latter was linked to unique female biological traits such as hormones and menstrual cycles which may affect sleep patterns.
            Both articles mention sleep deprivation. However, the popular media article only mentions the consequences of sleep deprivation whereas the original source links sleep deprivation to changes in hormones such as cortisol and testosterone. This information serves to enforce reliability and gives confidence to the reader that the author is qualified in writing about the topic in question. Furthermore, the original study lists the limitations of the research. These include self-reporting of the measured variables instead of actually observing and measuring the sleep duration and quality which introduces unwanted biases. The study’s design also excludes clarification of causality that might have influenced results. The study’s analysis involved adjusting for some confounding variables but did not tackle the possibility of other covariates that might have influenced the results. The mainstream article does not include any limitations to the conclusions drawn. Epidemiologic surveys and more studies should suffice to determine whether the study’s findings are replicated in different populations.
            Despite to the above differences in the different presentations of the topic, the reader may come to the same conclusion based on the information in each article but there’s a risk that some information not covered in the mainstream article may affect a reader’s psychological state. For example, a reader who uses sleep medication after reading the mainstream article may conclude that the medication in helping him/her sleep better is also consequently improving their muscle strength. This may be a fallacy. The academic article addresses this issue by assessing the use of hypnotics in the questionnaire given to the participants. The original study also takes into consideration the effects of alcohol consumption. One main shortcoming of the mainstream article is failure to separate between male and female participants. A female reader might reach the same conclusion after reading the mainstream news article which is nulled by the original source. The academic study suggests that there was no noteworthy link between muscle strength and sleep duration for the female participants. Moreover, the mainstream article linked weak muscle development to shorter durations of sleep (less than 6 hours). Nevertheless, it fails to mention that there was no perceivable difference in the link between muscle strength and sleep duration amongst participants who slept for seven to eight hours compared to those who slept for more. A reader who only reads the article in popular media might be misinformed and sleep for 10 hours after concluding that longer sleep hours equals stronger muscles which is not entirely true. The academic study comprised university students aged between 16 and 30 years. The determinant for muscle strength was the highest recorded handgrip force. This information is not provided in the popular media article hence the study might not be applicable for older people whose biology and psychology are different from the mentioned age-group.
            There are a number of methods in which the author of the popular press article could utilize in a bid to improve their depiction of the original source. For one, the author could introduce a hypothesis to show the objective of the article. This is helpful for the readers to gauge whether the steps taken in reaching a conclusion are scientifically sound. The methodology used in the original study could also be summarized in a table or a graph to improve reliability and credibility. The participants characteristics should also be mentioned since the results of the study are based only on this particular sample. The author of the popular press article does well to discuss the implications of the results of the study and even recommends ways to improve sleep quality and duration. However, the limitations of the study should also be mentioned. This shows that the author is aware of aspects beyond his/her control in the study and increases his/her credibility not to mention gaining the readers’ trust. Finally, the article is inadequate when it comes to citations and references to similar studies. The reader needs alternative information sources for credibility.
            In order to make informed decisions, the general public must understand the basis of science. Regrettably, mainstream media may be at fault for generalizing or oversimplifying the subject matter to an extent where information is obscured or even worse, totally false. In a field as wide as psychology, evaluating which theories are scientifically accepted can prove difficult. With all the information available at our disposal, a single research topic search may result in numerous opposing studies. This calls for critical dissection of any information encountered in our quest for knowledge by practicing a degree of cynicism. Any scientific claim or otherwise should be assessed from different perspectives by posing the questions Why, What, Who and How? In a scientific view, deductive reasoning involves making a general statement, a hypothesis, from which logical conclusions in real life are drawn. If the statement is true, the conclusions reached after applying deductive reasoning should as well be true. Based on this principle, any reader is able to distinguish between fact and opinion and thus make informed decisions in their personal lives.

Bibliography

Belous, A. (2020). The Importance of Sleep For Muscle Growth and Recovery. Retrieved 29 October 2020, from https://www.alaskasleep.com/blog/the-importance-of-sleep-for-muscle-growth-and-recovery

Chen, Y., Cui, Y., Chen, S., & Wu, Z. (2017). Relationship between sleep and muscle strength among Chinese university students: a cross-sectional study. Journal Of Musculoskeletal & Neuronal Interactions17(4), 327–333. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5749041/

Johnson-Laird, P. (2010). Mental models and human reasoning. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences107(43), 18243-18250. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1012933107

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