Psychology article

Psychology papers are divided into six sections.  The first section is the Abstract, which appears in this paper as the paragraph below the title.  The Abstract is a summary of the entire paper, and is probably familiar to you.  Most students, when told to write a paper, will use Google Scholar or some other search engine to find sources; the Abstract is usually what comes up in the search.  But the details of the paper are in the other sections. Psychology article

The second section of a psychology paper is the Introduction; that’s the part that starts below the Keywords, and runs through the Method section.   The idea behind the introduction is to summarize OTHER papers that are about the same topic as THIS one you’re reading now.  THIS paper is about whether teens who see themselves as overweight are at risk for becoming obese, so it summarizes papers on both those topics.  One of the critical distinctions researchers on obesity make is the difference between “healthy” or “typical” weight loss behaviors and “unhealthy” or “extreme” weight loss behaviors.  Looking just at the Introduction section, tell me which weight loss behaviors are “healthy” and which are “unhealthy” (hint: the writers might not use those exact words to describe the behaviors!).
Question 2.

The Method section of the paper (everything between the Method and Results headings) explains all the technical details that went in to deciding what to do – and not do – in the study.  You will often find lists of equipment used, ranging from “pencil and paper” to “this specific computer model, set in a dark room, on a desk 35.6 inches high.”    You’ll also usually find the details on the participants here: the total number of participants, the gender or sex breakdown, and the average age in years (this particular study gives you a handy table with additional “demographic” variables).  This section of the paper will also explain any important variables used in the study: how the information was collected, how the variable was computed, and (in some cases) a source article from which the variable was taken.

In the present study, the variable you see over and over is BMI.  For this question, explain what BMI is: what does it stand for, how was it computed, when was it computed?  Once you’ve answered all those questions, consider this – do the authors ever actually explain what BMI really is, or do they just seem to presume you, the reader, already know?


Question 3.

The Results section of the paper (which goes from that heading to the heading Discussion or Conclusion) is the place where the authors are supposed to explain all of the statistics they conducted in the study.  Statistics are something you learn about in more advanced classes – and when you read this Results section, I bet you noticed that it didn’t look much like English!  Effects were ‘independent’ or ‘moderated,’ and so on.  I point this out to you to show you one “trap” that students often fall into when writing papers in other classes.  Most of us have learned through high school to “paraphrase” from our sources – copy sentences or sections, and change some of the words to synonyms.  This is actually a form of plagiarism, but more importantly, it will get you into trouble when you do so with science papers – because you never know which words are just words, and which refer to complex statistical techniques (you might have been suspicious that ‘moderated’ was a technical term, but it probably never occurred to you that ‘independent’ could be a technical term for a particular type of statistic!).

But just because the section is hard to read, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from it.  Look at Table 2, on the top of page 509.  Any statistic in the table that has an asterisk ( * ) next to it is “significant,” meaning that this variable is “related to” risk of obesity in adulthood.  The critical variable in the table is the bottom one, Misperception of being overweight – women have a score of 1.29, and men have a score of 1.89, with an asterisk next to both.  As it said in the Abstract, this statistic tells us that for both men and women, if you wrongly thought you were overweight when you were an adolescent, you are at increased risk of actually being obese when you’re an adult.  The higher the statistic is than 1, the greater your risk, so men (1.89) have a greater risk than do women (1.29).

For this question, tell me two things about the table, and then see if you can guess one other.

A) Look at the Race and Ethnicity entries, to see which statistics have asterisks next to them.  For women, only one race/ethnicity has an increased risk of obesity in adulthood: which one is it?  (Literally, the translation is “if you are a woman of race/ethnicity ____ who wrongly thought she was overweight as an adolescent, you are at increased risk of obesity in adulthood.”) Psychology article

B)  For men, only one race/ethnicity has an increased risk of obesity in adulthood: which one is it?  (Again, literally the translation is “if you are a man of race/ethnicity ___ who wrongly thought he was overweight as an adolescent, you are at increased risk of obesity in adulthood.”)

C)  Look at the row marked Education.  What do you think that asterisk next to a statistic that is LOWER than 1 means? (see if you can guess, from what you’ve just done and what I’ve written above.)

Question 4.

The Discussion section of the paper should include three things.  First, the authors summarize their findings, but with words (not statistics!).  Second, the authors “place” their findings in with current theory or practice in the field.  Third, the authors are supposed to list any limitations in their study.  For this question, tell me the two ways the authors “place” their research into current theory.  [hint: one of the two is in the paragraph that starts “This research also suggests that the population …”]

Question 5.  It is probably impossible to conduct a “perfect” research study; there are limitations to everything.  One of the limitations of this paper is that the authors use BMI to measure whether or not participants were overweight/obese.  Many, many studies have shown that BMI can be a very inaccurate measure of overweight/obesity.  For example, football players and weightlifting enthusiasts tend to pack on muscle, which weighs more by volume than does fat.  A 6’ tall man weighing 210 pounds and a 5’6” woman weighing 180 pounds who are “cut” like professional body builders would show up as “obese” using BMI, even with their tiny waist lines.  Yet the authors of this paper don’t mention that BMI can be a bad measure of obesity!

Do you see any limitations listed anywhere in the Discussion section?  If so, what are they? [note: do NOT make guesses or use your opinion – tell me only what weaknesses the authors say there are in this paper.]

the assignment is to read that article, and to answer the following questions to the best. Do not copy the work of anyone else, or share the work you do. assignments is stored electronically, and will be checked for plagiarism. Use complete sentences, and write in paragraph form. citation is required if necessary. Psychology article

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