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    [–] Academic press releases are often misleading, with a tendency to confuse causal and correlational claims, leading to inaccurate news headlines. A new study found that it’s possible to fix these misleading news headlines by aligning press releases to the evidence, with no reduction in news uptake. mvea 285 points ago in science

    The title of the post is a copy and paste from the second and sixth paragraphs of the linked academic press release here:

    Press releases are often misleading in many different ways, but a common flaw is their tendency to confuse causal and correlational claims.

    The most important takeaways are that news headlines were more accurate when they were written off more accurate press releases (which shows that journalists really are relying heavily on press releases rather than reading the studies themselves). And as judged by the amount of media coverage each press release generated, there was “no evidence of reduced news uptake for press releases whose headlines and main claims aligned to evidence.”

    Journal Reference:

    Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial

    Rachel C. Adams, Aimée Challenger, Luke Bratton, Jacky Boivin, Lewis Bott, Georgina Powell, Andy Williams, Christopher D. ChambersEmail author and Petroc Sumner

    BMC Medicine 201917:91

    Link: https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-019-1324-7

    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-019-1324-7

    Abstract

    Background

    Misleading news claims can be detrimental to public health. We aimed to improve the alignment between causal claims and evidence, without losing news interest (counter to assumptions that news is not interested in communicating caution).

    Methods

    We tested two interventions in press releases, which are the main sources for science and health news: (a) aligning the headlines and main causal claims with the underlying evidence (strong for experimental, cautious for correlational) and (b) inserting explicit statements/caveats about inferring causality. The ‘participants’ were press releases on health-related topics (N = 312; control = 89, claim alignment = 64, causality statement = 79, both = 80) from nine press offices (journals, universities, funders). Outcomes were news content (headlines, causal claims, caveats) in English-language international and national media (newspapers, websites, broadcast; N = 2257), news uptake (% press releases gaining news coverage) and feasibility (% press releases implementing cautious statements).

    Results

    News headlines showed better alignment to evidence when press releases were aligned (intention-to-treat analysis (ITT) 56% vs 52%, OR = 1.2 to 1.9; as-treated analysis (AT) 60% vs 32%, OR = 1.3 to 4.4). News claims also followed press releases, significant only for AT (ITT 62% vs 60%, OR = 0.7 to 1.6; AT, 67% vs 39%, OR = 1.4 to 5.7). The same was true for causality statements/caveats (ITT 15% vs 10%, OR = 0.9 to 2.6; AT 20% vs 0%, OR 16 to 156). There was no evidence of lost news uptake for press releases with aligned headlines and claims (ITT 55% vs 55%, OR = 0.7 to 1.3, AT 58% vs 60%, OR = 0.7 to 1.7), or causality statements/caveats (ITT 53% vs 56%, OR = 0.8 to 1.0, AT 66% vs 52%, OR = 1.3 to 2.7). Feasibility was demonstrated by a spontaneous increase in cautious headlines, claims and caveats in press releases compared to the pre-trial period (OR = 1.01 to 2.6, 1.3 to 3.4, 1.1 to 26, respectively).

    Conclusions

    News claims—even headlines—can become better aligned with evidence. Cautious claims and explicit caveats about correlational findings may penetrate into news without harming news interest. Findings from AT analysis are correlational and may not imply cause, although here the linking mechanism between press releases and news is known. ITT analysis was insensitive due to spontaneous adoption of interventions across conditions.

    [–] Academic press releases are often misleading, with a tendency to confuse causal and correlational claims, leading to inaccurate news headlines. A new study found that it’s possible to fix these misleading news headlines by aligning press releases to the evidence, with no reduction in news uptake. mvea 1 points ago in EverythingScience

    The title of the post is a copy and paste from the second and sixth paragraphs of the linked academic press release here:

    Press releases are often misleading in many different ways, but a common flaw is their tendency to confuse causal and correlational claims.

    The most important takeaways are that news headlines were more accurate when they were written off more accurate press releases (which shows that journalists really are relying heavily on press releases rather than reading the studies themselves). And as judged by the amount of media coverage each press release generated, there was “no evidence of reduced news uptake for press releases whose headlines and main claims aligned to evidence.”

    Journal Reference:

    Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial

    Rachel C. Adams, Aimée Challenger, Luke Bratton, Jacky Boivin, Lewis Bott, Georgina Powell, Andy Williams, Christopher D. ChambersEmail author and Petroc Sumner

    BMC Medicine 201917:91

    Link: https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-019-1324-7

    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-019-1324-7

    Abstract

    Background

    Misleading news claims can be detrimental to public health. We aimed to improve the alignment between causal claims and evidence, without losing news interest (counter to assumptions that news is not interested in communicating caution).

    Methods

    We tested two interventions in press releases, which are the main sources for science and health news: (a) aligning the headlines and main causal claims with the underlying evidence (strong for experimental, cautious for correlational) and (b) inserting explicit statements/caveats about inferring causality. The ‘participants’ were press releases on health-related topics (N = 312; control = 89, claim alignment = 64, causality statement = 79, both = 80) from nine press offices (journals, universities, funders). Outcomes were news content (headlines, causal claims, caveats) in English-language international and national media (newspapers, websites, broadcast; N = 2257), news uptake (% press releases gaining news coverage) and feasibility (% press releases implementing cautious statements).

    Results

    News headlines showed better alignment to evidence when press releases were aligned (intention-to-treat analysis (ITT) 56% vs 52%, OR = 1.2 to 1.9; as-treated analysis (AT) 60% vs 32%, OR = 1.3 to 4.4). News claims also followed press releases, significant only for AT (ITT 62% vs 60%, OR = 0.7 to 1.6; AT, 67% vs 39%, OR = 1.4 to 5.7). The same was true for causality statements/caveats (ITT 15% vs 10%, OR = 0.9 to 2.6; AT 20% vs 0%, OR 16 to 156). There was no evidence of lost news uptake for press releases with aligned headlines and claims (ITT 55% vs 55%, OR = 0.7 to 1.3, AT 58% vs 60%, OR = 0.7 to 1.7), or causality statements/caveats (ITT 53% vs 56%, OR = 0.8 to 1.0, AT 66% vs 52%, OR = 1.3 to 2.7). Feasibility was demonstrated by a spontaneous increase in cautious headlines, claims and caveats in press releases compared to the pre-trial period (OR = 1.01 to 2.6, 1.3 to 3.4, 1.1 to 26, respectively).

    Conclusions

    News claims—even headlines—can become better aligned with evidence. Cautious claims and explicit caveats about correlational findings may penetrate into news without harming news interest. Findings from AT analysis are correlational and may not imply cause, although here the linking mechanism between press releases and news is known. ITT analysis was insensitive due to spontaneous adoption of interventions across conditions.

    [–] Welfare recipients were more likely to be viewed as irresponsible and impulsive by people when they purchased items that people did not themselves value, finds a new study (n=1,664). This negative stereotyping was not observed when the welfare recipient was replaced with a middle-class individual. mvea 13 points ago in science

    The title of the post is a copy and paste from the fourth and fifth paragraphs of the linked academic press release here:

    The study of 1,664 Americans found that welfare recipients were more likely to be viewed as irresponsible and impulsive when they purchased items that the participants did not themselves value. The study controlled for factors such as political orientation, past welfare experience, income, and general attitudes about welfare.

    However, this negative stereotyping was not observed when the welfare recipient was replaced with a middle-class individual who purchased items that the participants did not value — suggesting the effect is unique to those who receive public assistance.

    Journal Reference:

    Shepherd, S., & Campbell, T. (2019).

    The Effect of Egocentric Taste Judgments on Stereotyping of Welfare Recipients and Attitudes Toward Welfare Policy.

    Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.

    Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0743915618820925

    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0743915618820925

    Abstract

    Despite the centrality of purchasing behavior and choice to the welfare debate, research has generally understood attitudes toward welfare at a broader level and as a function of rational or deliberative processes (e.g., self-interest, ideology). This project identifies the effect of egocentrism on welfare attitudes, finding that a welfare recipient’s purchase of an item that the participant personally values less (vs. more) leads to increased stereotyping of welfare recipients (e.g., irresponsibility, impulsivity) and favorable attitudes toward policy that would restrict that purchase. This effect is illustrated for both chronic and situational preferences and across a number of products commonly debated in welfare policy. The authors find that egocentrism is robust to debiasing; therefore, tests of boundary conditions involved countering the stereotype of irresponsibility rather than the bias itself. For example, the effects do not emerge in the context of healthy foods and necessities, nor when information suggests that the target consumer is otherwise responsible (e.g., budgeting, clipping coupons). Implications for policy and welfare advocacy are discussed. In general, these findings establish how personal preferences may shape attitudes toward marginalized consumers and related policy.

    [–] Welfare recipients were more likely to be viewed as irresponsible and impulsive by people when they purchased items that people did not themselves value, finds a new study (n=1,664). This negative stereotyping was not observed when the welfare recipient was replaced with a middle-class individual. mvea 2 points ago in psychology

    The title of the post is a copy and paste from the fourth and fifth paragraphs of the linked academic press release here:

    The study of 1,664 Americans found that welfare recipients were more likely to be viewed as irresponsible and impulsive when they purchased items that the participants did not themselves value. The study controlled for factors such as political orientation, past welfare experience, income, and general attitudes about welfare.

    However, this negative stereotyping was not observed when the welfare recipient was replaced with a middle-class individual who purchased items that the participants did not value — suggesting the effect is unique to those who receive public assistance.

    Journal Reference:

    Shepherd, S., & Campbell, T. (2019).

    The Effect of Egocentric Taste Judgments on Stereotyping of Welfare Recipients and Attitudes Toward Welfare Policy.

    Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.

    Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0743915618820925

    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0743915618820925

    Abstract

    Despite the centrality of purchasing behavior and choice to the welfare debate, research has generally understood attitudes toward welfare at a broader level and as a function of rational or deliberative processes (e.g., self-interest, ideology). This project identifies the effect of egocentrism on welfare attitudes, finding that a welfare recipient’s purchase of an item that the participant personally values less (vs. more) leads to increased stereotyping of welfare recipients (e.g., irresponsibility, impulsivity) and favorable attitudes toward policy that would restrict that purchase. This effect is illustrated for both chronic and situational preferences and across a number of products commonly debated in welfare policy. The authors find that egocentrism is robust to debiasing; therefore, tests of boundary conditions involved countering the stereotype of irresponsibility rather than the bias itself. For example, the effects do not emerge in the context of healthy foods and necessities, nor when information suggests that the target consumer is otherwise responsible (e.g., budgeting, clipping coupons). Implications for policy and welfare advocacy are discussed. In general, these findings establish how personal preferences may shape attitudes toward marginalized consumers and related policy.