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Title: Of academics, publishers and journalists : popular evolutionary psychology in the UK
Author: Cassidy, Angela
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
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Evolutionary psychology (EP) is an emerging area of research, mostly located in the social sciences, which stresses the importance of, and seeks to investigate further, the evolutionary origins of modern human psychology and behaviour. Over the 1990s, claims made by evolutionary psychologists were extensively debated on a popular level in the UK, particularly through the publication of ‘popular science’ books on the subject, and by the appearance of many academics in the mass media discussing the issues raised. In such discussions, evolutionary psychology claims were often closely related to discussions of sexual politics, differences between men and women, and changes in workplace and family roles. Other subjects interlinked with evolutionary psychology in the media included concerns over biological determinism, developments in genetics, biotechnology and neurobiology, and changes in the political landscape during the 1990s. This research is a case study of these popular debates, looking at the UK press and other media coverage of evolutionary psychology from 1990 until 2001. I have carried out quantitative (content analysis) of the press and qualitative analyses of wider media coverage, alongside in-depth interviews with academic and media actors involved in popular evolutionary psychology. I found that the UK media covered evolutionary psychology in a strikingly different pattern to that seen in more generalised media coverage of the sciences. There are two major aspects to this, whereby evolutionary psychology was less often coded specifically as science (or covered by science journalists) when it was covered. In addition, a much higher proportion of scientists, authors and academics wrote about evolutionary psychology than did about a comparative ‘science’ subject. I then drew upon the interview material and qualitative media analysis to explore the reasons behind these differences, looking at the different interests and understandings of academics and media professionals with regard to evolutionary psychology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available