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Lessons from a case of academic misconduct

How should academic institutions—universities, funders, and journal editors— address academic misconduct of the type now known to have been committed by Brian Wansink, John Dyson professor of marketing at Cornell University? Wansink has had a total of 13 articles retracted as of 10 October 2018, following investigation by Cornell which found “misreporting of research data, problematic statistical techniques, failure to properly document and preserve research results, and inappropriate authorship.”

Dr Gareth Hollands and Professor Theresa Marteau (Behaviour and Health Research Unit), writing with Professor Marcus Munafo (Bristol) in the BMJ, argue that open research practices provide the research community with a framework for minimising academic misconduct of the kind perpetrated by Wansink. Click below to access the full text.

Open science prevents mindless science. BMJ. Munafò, M. R., Hollands, G. J., & Marteau, T. M.

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Does communicating evidence of policy effectiveness influence public support for the policy?

In a new paper investigating public acceptability for policy interventions to improve health (published in Social Science and Medicine 4th October, 2018), researchers tested ways to communicate quantitative evidence of the effectiveness of a hypothetical tax on confectionery to help tackle childhood obesity.

The study comprised of a series of experiments, involving nearly 10,000 people. Researchers used results obtained from the first two experiments to improve their infographics and accompanying numerical information provided to study participants in the succeeding experiment. The third experiment, using the improved materials, consequently showed increased support for the hypothetical tax, equivalent to increasing the number who support the tax from 45% to 49%. Click on the read more button for further details about this study.

Communicating quantitative evidence of policy effectiveness and support for the policy: Three experimental studies. Reynolds JP, Pilling M, Marteau TM. Soc Sci Med.

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Partnerships with the alcohol industry at the expense of public health

Partnerships between public health agencies and industries which trade in potentially harmful products or activities – such as the recently announced and much criticised partnership between Public Health England (PHE) and the alcohol industry-funded body, Drinkaware – risk delaying or preventing effective policies to improve population health, say public health scientists Mark Petticrew, Martin McKee and Theresa Marteau in their Lancet Comment, published online on September 20th 2018. The authors say that such partnerships with industry promote voluntary models of harm reduction which are largely ineffective and are likely to benefit the relevant industries rather than improving the health of the nation. They conclude by recommending that PHE should work with the public health community to redefine its relationships with industry.

Professor Dame Theresa Marteau is Director of the (BHRU) at the University of Cambridge.

Partnerships with the alcohol industry: furthering industry interests at the expense of public health. Petticrew M, Marteau TM, McKee M. Lancet.

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How do regular drinkers perceive wines and beers labelled as lower in strength?

In a sample of 3390 weekly wine and beer drinkers, published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 30th August 2018, we assessed the impact of labelling wine and beer with different verbal descriptors denoting lower strength, with and without %ABV, on product appeal and understanding of strength.

Products labelled with verbal descriptors denoting lower alcohol strength (Low and Super Low) had less appeal than Regular (average) strength products.

Impact on product appeal of labeling wine and beer with (a) lower strength alcohol verbal descriptors and (b) percent alcohol by Vol. (%ABV): An experimental study.
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Vasiljevic, M., Couturier, D.-L., & Marteau, T. M. (2018).

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Drink it straight: people take longer to consume sugary soft drinks served in straight-sided glasses

People drink soft drinks more slowly from glasses which have straight sides, when compared to those that slope outwards. That is the central conclusion of PhD research conducted by Tess Langfield, and published in PLoS One. Tess presented this research on Friday 7th September at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Health Psychology annual conference in Gateshead, which also earned her a prize from BPS for her award winning abstract. Click below to access the full paper.

Impact of glass shape on time taken to drink a soft drink: A laboratory-based experiment. Langfield T, Pechey R, Pilling M, Marteau TM. PLoS ONE
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