Friday, March 20, 2009

Psychology Articles - Peer-Reviewed?

Distinguishing a psychology magazine article from a peer-reviewed psychology article

This is an example of an article from a magazine:

Ayan, Steve. "Laughing Matters." Scientific American Mind Apr. 2009: 24-31. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 May 2009 .

The author cites several studies and famous anecdotes to demonstrate the positive effects of humor on mental health, but does not report on his own original research. The magazine is intended for the educated, interested member of the general public; you don’t have to be a psychology student/professor/professional to appreciate it.

Here is a peer-reviewed article on a similar subject:

Ventis, W. Larry, Garrett Higbee, and Susan A. Murdock. "Using Humor In Systematic Desensitization To Reduce Fear." Journal Of General Psychology 128.2 (2001): 241-253. Academic Search Premier. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. ABSTRACT. Effectiveness of systematic desensitization for fear reduction, using humorous hierarchy scenes without relaxation, was tested. Participants were 40 students highly fearful of spiders. Using a 24-item behavioral approach test with an American tarantula, participants were matched on fear level and randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatment groups: (a) systematic desensitization, (b) humor desensitization, and (c) untreated controls. Each participant was seen for 6 sessions, including pretest and posttest. Analyses of covariance of posttest scores revealed that the 2 treatment groups showed greater reduction in fear than the controls on 3 measures but did not differ from each other. Therefore, humor in systematic desensitization reduced fear as effectively as more traditional desensitization. This finding may have therapeutic applications; however, it may also be applicable in advertising to desensitize fear of a dangerous product, such as cigarettes. Key words: advertising, behavior therapy, fear, humor [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Here are several ways to distinguish it from a non-peer-reviewed article (not all will appear in absolutely every instance, but these are common):
  • Multiple authors.
  • Long (13 pages)
  • Abstract written by the authors.
  • Abstract includes indicator words “tested...participants...analyses..showed..this finding...” All of these tell you that this is a report on original research.
  • If you open the article it has sections for methods, results, discussion, and references.
  • At the beginning it notes the authors affiliations with educational institutions.