How Laypeople Understand the Tentativeness of Medical Research News in the Media: An Experimental Study on the Perception of Information About Deep Brain Stimulation

Joachim Kimmerle, Danny Flemming, Insa Feinkohl, Ulrike Cress

Medical research findings are often tentative, and people should be able to perceive this. However, the psychological processes underlying this ability are largely unclear. In a laboratory experiment, we found that the following factors had an impact on perception of tentativeness of research findings reported in a newspaper article: (a) the framing of findings, (b) emphasis on the limited reliability of the findings in the article, (c) people’s provisional opinion on the topic, and (d) their medicine-related epistemological beliefs. We make recommendations to science journalists to help promote the public understanding of health research and provide suggestions for future studies.

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