Why Media Reports About Psychological Studies Usually Turn Out To Be Garbage

The media: loves to report on psychological studies that confirm its existing biases: and if it requires a sensational headline that isn’t even remotely justified by the study, well, that’s just the price the media has to pay to get attention.

Study: Girls As Young As 6 Are Thinking Of Selves As Sex Objects

A new study by Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., indicates that girls as young as 6 are beginning to think of themselves a sex objects.

For the study, which was published earlier this month in the journal Sex Roles, researchers asked dozens of girls from the Midwest between the ages of 6 and 9 to choose a doll that looked like themselves, that they wanted to look like, that would be most popular in school, or that they wanted to play with.

Across the board, they chose what have been termed the sexy dolls — dressed in tight and revealing clothing. LiveScience reports a total of 68 percent of the girls said the sexy doll represented how they themselves wanted to look, and 72 percent said the sexy doll would win a popularity contest up against the non-sexy doll.

Saying that because a young girl would rather look like a sexy doll than a non-sexy doll means that she thinks of herself as a “sex object” is a leap wider than the Grand Canyon. After all, the girls weren’t asked if they thought of themselves as sex objects, about whether they wanted men to find them sexy, or about sex at all. So, why would young girls prefer to look sexy than non-sexy? Maybe because those are the women they see getting the most positive attention in public, on TV, and even on the online version of the newspaper this story is running in. Incidentally, that’s where’s I got the picture you’re seeing on your left.

In other words, the only thing this study really tells you is that when young girls grow up, if they have to choose between being sexy and non-sexy, they’d prefer to be sexy. Unfortunately, that’s doesn’t draw Drudge links like “Girls As Young As 6 Are Thinking Of Selves As Sex Objects.” There’s a lesson there when it comes to psychological studies. Don’t fall for the hype. Just because someone did a study and it seems to show SOMETHING doesn’t mean it shows what we’re told it does.

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