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Scientific Research in Media Representation Report

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Updated: Jul 1st, 2021


Love, marriage, and relationships have always been at the center of attention of media. Eric W. Dolan’s (2018) article published on the news website PsyPost concerns the same area of interest. The article entitled “Study: Husband’s disapproval of his wife’s friends predicts divorce among white couples” gives the highlights of a recent study conducted by a group of scientists from different universities of the USA. The research about the interdependence between the spouses’ friends’ acceptance by a partner and the tendency to divorce conducted by Fiori et al. (2018) is introduced as the basis for Dolan’s article. While news journals’ or websites’ authors prioritize keeping a reader interested, research articles’ authors tend to care about the accuracy of data presentation and coherence of the facts. Thus, scientific relationships research presented in media would differ from the original article’s specific data providing more explicit explanations of scientific facts and less accurate delivery of experiments’ results.

Media Story Description

According to Dolan (2018), the research found the interdependence between “a husband’s disapproval of his wife’s friends” and the increased possibilities of divorce in such a family (para. 1). The media story explains that such a tendency was noticed primarily for white married couples. The major part of the website article consists of the quotes from the interview with a corresponding author of the original study. Dolan (2018) retrieves appropriate statements made by Fiori to deliver the main message of the research. It lies in the fact that “husbands who expressed disapproval of their wives’ friends at the beginning of the study were more likely to have been divorced 16 years later” (Dolan, 2018, para. 7). The main part of the article is an interview transcript with Katherine L. Fiori. Overall, the media report delivers the general idea of the research as explained by the original author.

The Original Research Article Description

The original study conducted by Fiori et al. (2018) explains the influence the acceptance of a spouse’s friends by a partner has on the tendency of this married couple to divorce. At the beginning of the article, the authors provide a broad scientifically-based validation of the relevance of such research. They point out the existing studies concentrating on the overall effects communication with other social network representatives has on a marriage. However, in the scope of studies, little attention is paid to the dependence of divorce tendency on the perception of one’s spouse’s friends. Fiori et al. (2018) tend to answer the question “what happens if an individual does not like one or more of his or her spouse’s friends?” (p. 1232). The scholars anticipated the possible differences in the results of the research for different genders and different races.

Accordingly, “373 couples (174 White and 199 Black)” were followed by the study during the first 16 years of their marriage (Fiori et al., p. 1234). In the process of research, the couples’ members were interviewed separately and asked about their approval of their spouses’ friends. The interviews were conducted during the first, third, seventh, and sixteenth years of the study. The age of the participants during the first year of marriage was taken into account when retrieving the results of the research. Several tables are showing the dependence between the race combined with marriage duration and the percentage of divorced couples, as well as the tables indicating the relation between disapproval of friends and divorce rates. The results of the experiment showed that the couples in which men disapproved of their wife’s friends in the first year of marriage were more likely to divorce within 16 years. Such a tendency was insignificant for black couples, when for white ones it proved to be a prominent cause.

Comparison of Media Story and the Original Research Article

When compared, the two articles share some common and opposing features. The context set by the authors in the original article grounds on the references to the existing studies and links this information to the literature gap that needs further investigation. Such a gap lies in the lack of scientific explanation of the influence of friendship ties on the state of affairs between the spouses when one of them disapproves of the friends of the other. The media report addresses the literature gap less specifically providing only Fiori’s quote. The original study presents a broad piece of information about the anticipated outcomes of the research validating them with the help of multiple references. The media report fails to present any of the predicted results concentrating only on the actual outcomes.

As for the accuracy of the data delivery, the story on the news website provides limited (although precise) information about the number of participants and the duration of the experimental procedures. However, there is no explicit description of the research process. Compared to the original article, where the authors presented the list of questions asked to the participants and the procedures which were conducted, the media report omits all of this information. Also, although Dolan (2018) refers to the “potentially confounding factors, such as income and marital quality,” the author does not include the factors of age, education, and shared relatives regarded in the original study (para. 7). It is important to remark, that the media story does not cite the original article at all. It only provides direct quotes from the interview with the corresponding author.

The concluding parts of the two compared articles also differ. When considering the original research, the authors give an explicit validation of the relevance of the current study providing possible ways for further research in this area. However, when looking at the media story, there are no implications for the further deepening of the scope of investigation of the problem. Only the general conclusions made from the research are given for readers’ consideration.

Targeting average individuals, the media story simplifies the scientific data to everyday language. It also connects the expectations from the research at the beginning of the text and the conclusions at the end of it with the ordinary life situations and tips understandable for people. On the other hand, the scientific study targets scholars and academic participants as its primary audience. That is why psychologists utilize scholarly vocabulary and typical article structure relevant for academic circles. Overall, due to the different targeted populations and different purposes, the two interpretations use contrasting techniques of message delivery.


Concluding the comparative discussion of the relationship research and its media interpretation, it is relevant to state that the news report does not provide a fully comprehensive overview of the original article. Generally, the media report is less accurate than the original study is, and might be graded as 85% accurate in comparison to the original study. The main aim of the media content is to inform the readers by delivering explicitly the general message retrieved from the study. It might be explained by the fact that the media targets a broad range of populations, which includes people of different professions, religions, ethnicities, and hobbies. However, the inconsistencies in the presentation of the precise information valuable for the valid perception of the study results were detected.

Some specific information from the study is missing from Dolan’s story. There is no detailed description of the experiment process when the original article broadly articulates the list of questions, the procedures, and the times when they were conducted. Fiory et al. set a referenced context of the study providing information about the existing studies in the field and the current literature gap. Dolan does not refer to any of these, rather concentrating primarily on the gap as specified by the corresponding author during an interview. However, there is a precise indication of the number of participants and their race in the media report which fully coincides with the original data. To mention more drawbacks of Dolan’s story, the author fails to present influential factors (other than income, race, and marital quality), when Fiory et al. include education and shared relatives as important ones.

In addition, the media does not include any implication for further investigation of the question even though it is remarked in the original study. Dolan concentrates on the explanation and application of the information to people’s lives helping them use the data to resolve their marital issues. There are neither direct quotes from the research of the original relationship nor referencing about when the interview with Fiory was held that undermines the reliability of the interpretation.

Nevertheless, it is still a reliable source of information because it does not confuse the statements and conclusions even when grading the data to the requirements of the media. The changes and adaptations made in the story are determined by the broader targeted audience which includes people of different professions and educational levels, unlike the scientific research, which is created primarily for academic recipients. Even if the techniques utilized by the media reporter damage the accuracy to a particular extent, the overall idea remains relevant and reliable.


Dolan, E. W. (2018). PsyPost. Web.

Fiori, K. L., Rauer, A. J., Birditt, K. S., Marini, C. M., Jager, J., Brown, E., & Orbuch, T. L. (2018). “I love you, not your friends”: Links between partners’ early disapproval of friends and divorce across 16 years. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 35(9), 1230-1250.


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