Issues and Concerns in Media Psychology Research

The American Psychological Association guides all domains of psychology. From cognitive studies to experimental psychology, they are governed by mostly the same set of rules. To further elucidate our understanding, we will look at the following text.

Issues in Media Psychology Research

The moral guidelines and codes of conduct that direct research is known as research ethics. In essence, investigators must find a middle ground between their two main responsibilities: safeguarding study participants' interests and comfort while advancing information via study, which should eventually improve society. The ethical standards of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services must be followed by every research that receives federal funding.

For studies involving human subjects, many occupational organizations have established ethical standards, including the American Psychological Association. Most academic institutions demand that institutional review boards evaluate project proposals for compliance with ethical standards (IRBs). It is a difficult procedure that involves taking into account various aspects to adapt ethical standards to experimental scenarios.

Considering Pros and Cons

When selecting if and exactly how to undertake a research project, researchers must weigh the dangers (such as costs and damages) and rewards. The potential advantages of the study to the individuals and the community should be thoroughly considered against any hazards to study participants. There is a chance of suffering bodily inconvenience or damage as well as mental consequences like worry, shame, low self-concept, and privacy invasion when participating in the research. Because studies frequently focus on the negative consequences of media messages, psychological injury is a key topic in psychological media research.

Researchers must disclose to participants all dangers related to the study upfront and undo any injuries that might have been inflicted (for example, fear) throughout the trial. Researchers can lessen the risk of injury by conducting studies on subjects who have previously encountered an unpleasant condition (for example, by asking them about their prior experiences with horror movies) or by putting subjects under very little strain (e.g., showing a mildly terrifying movie than a graphically horrifying film to children).

Conscious Participation

Individuals must generally be free to decide if they wish to partake in an investigation and willingly agree to take any risks. Researchers must avoid the sanction since it might happen when powerful people recruit individuals or when sizable rewards are provided. Prior to research participation, individuals must be notified about the study's essence, be made aware that their participation is completely voluntary and that they can pull out at any time, and be made aware of any study-related factors that could have an impact on how inclined they are to partake, based on the American Psychological Association (1992).

Usually, respondents need to be sufficiently briefed about the aims and methods of a study before enrolment since doing so would jeopardize the study's integrity. For instance, if participants know that the provenance of the message—an expert rather than a peer—was altered, their reactions to a PSA about protected sex may be influenced. The most important thing to consider is whether metadata will influence someone's participation decision.

Occasionally, researchers will purposely mislead subjects about certain components of a research. Typical ones include giving a "cover narrative" or misleading information about the study's objectives, utilizing an artificial confederate to play a predetermined position, or misdirecting commentary while the study is being conducted.

For instance, research of memory for ads can be presented as research of reactions to a satire show where the adverts tend to provide a much more realistic viewing environment. On the morality of lying, not all researchers concur. Some believe lying is never acceptable because it restricts people's ability to choose whether or not to participate in research. Others believe that deception is acceptable when volunteers are debriefed after the study; the research is significant and cannot be undertaken in another manner.

There is no misrepresentation of any potential hazards. In some naturalistic settings, written permission might not be necessary. These can include field studies if the procedure is safe and within the bounds of customary practice and realistic monitoring in a public venue. For instance, it is unlikely that a researcher would require informed permission if they just observed travelers television viewing on airline screens.


Debriefing serves to tell volunteers about the entire scope and objectives of a study, to justify any need for secrecy or deceit, and to undo any damage the research may have caused. For instance, comprehensive debriefings involving researcher-led talks are usually used to study the consequences of aggressive sexual content appearing in the news. These steps are intended to guarantee that any negative impacts of participation (such as wider tolerance of rape stereotypes) are eliminated and notify respondents about the study.


All individuals are entitled to decide who controls their data and themselves. Anonymity or confidentiality may help to safeguard privacy in some cases. When a volunteer is anonymous, the researcher does not learn anything personally distinctive about them. When a researcher signs a confidentiality agreement, they promise to keep participant information private and to hide any identifying details from the general public when publishing research findings. Privacy concerns are of key significance when a researcher intends to photograph or videotape participants, acquire access to their personal information, or ask delicate personal questions. If the investigator considers the respondents' interests, receives explicit consent, and upholds anonymity or secrecy, these approaches can be utilized ethically.

Study of Particular Populations

Specific safeguards must be followed when undertaking experiments with any demographic that may be especially susceptible to experimental danger or have a diminished capacity to agree to participation, such as people who are mentally impaired, unwell, or mistreated. Children (under 18) are another specific demographic group subject to extensive psychological media studies. Written consent from a guardian or parent is also required for a child to engage in research. Children should be informed that they are not required to participate because they are more vulnerable to persuasion than adults. Special precautions must be followed to reduce the hazards involved with the research.

Developmental considerations must be considered when estimating how youngsters of various ages react to experimental procedures. With youngsters with a restricted capacity to comprehend the goals of the study or the processes entailed, debriefing—which must be age-appropriate—might not be essential. In any case, kids must have a favorable experience at the research site.

Providing Research Reports

Researchers must also decide how to communicate and evaluate their findings ethically. The information must be properly examined, the methods and outcomes must be fully and precisely reported, and individuals who collaborated with the findings must be properly acknowledged. Before being disseminated to the science establishment, research reports frequently undergo peer assessment to confirm the integrity and importance of the findings (e.g., through publications).

When the community gains something from the information, study results ought to be shared with the broader public (for example, through the news media). For instance, studies on how kids react to media messages might help parents guide their kids toward becoming responsible social media users. In the end, psychological media study should serve society and advance scientific knowledge.


There are proper standards of media psychology research that have to be adhered to. These may include the consent of not dehumanizing what has been said, not fabricating data, and not involving multiple parties without proper authorization. Moreover, since the media reaches numerous people, it has to be specially monitored the kind of research it indulges in and allows to be presented.

Updated on: 27-Apr-2023


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