3 Reasons Why Research Is Important for EVERYONE.
In my introductory post I explained how this blog is not about giving advice, but instead on sharing research about topics related to relationships, parenting, mental health, and behaviour. Many of you may wonder why research is so important, and why you as a parent/student/professional should be interested in being up to date in the most recent research. Well, read on fellow researcher!
We all experience life differently.
Perhaps the number one thing I learned throughout my post-secondary education is that anecdotal evidence (evidence developed informally, often based on personal experience) is not enough when making decisions that influence yourself and the lives of others around you.
The reason it is not enough is because every single person encounters life differently. If we look at the information provided only by experience we may feel like we are being pulled in every direction possible, which makes it impossible to know what is true.
For example – When I was pregnant, I was told many *facts* by people in my life. “Don’t exercise, it is bad for the baby when you breathe too fast”… vs … “Exercise is great for the baby and for your body and you should make sure you do it every day”
“Don’t sleep on your back you will cut off the blood flow to the baby” … vs …. “Sleep any way you like, if something is the matter your body will wake you up”…
I am sure these examples are enough for anyone to think of examples in their own life of conflicting facts. This is where research comes in. Instead of being confused because we are told all of this anecdotal evidence, we can simply look to the research to find an answer that is proven to be true. This takes out the guesswork and allows us to make fact based decisions about our personal health and well-being.
Researchers look at hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people – study them across periods of time – and compare their studies other studies that researchers have done. This allows us to get information that is the most accurate and gives us strategies or treatments that are most likely to be effective.
‘Common Sense’ can be tricky.
Many times when people hear research their response is “Well, that is common sense.” I remember a lecture, in my first year at the University of Guelph, when we were first learning about the importance of research. The professor had many different statements on her Powerpoint slide that all seemed to be common sense. Many of them were proven by research, but some of them were not, and the class had to guess which ones were true and which ones were not – it was nearly impossible to decipher without looking at the research.
For example, read through the following situations and try to decipher which ones are true and which ones are false:
- Couples who have opposite personalities attract.
- Full moons increase levels of aggression, and more crimes occur during a full moon then any other time of month.
- Humans are only able to access 10% of their brain.
- We learn most effectively when we are taught via our preferred learning style.
- Most violent offenders have a history of mental illness.
- Men are 5 times more likely than females to assault their partner.
All of the above statements seem like they could be true. However, not one of these statements has significant research that supports it. In fact, all of these statements have scientific research that disputes it. (If you are interested in learning more about the research behind any of these statements, comment below!)
All of this to say, anything can seem like common sense, but that does not mean it is necessarily true. This again is where we can look to research to uncover which strategies are proven to be effective, and which ones are not.
Research allows us to apply scientific methods to our daily lives.
This is the most important reason we should all read research! Why should we waste our precious time trying methods and approaches that do not work when there is information available to us about what is effective?
There is research on almost every topic you can think of – from best ways to communicate with your partner/kids/colleagues – parenting approaches – methods of behaviour change (for yourself and others) – how to support a child who has been through trauma – how to best manage your time – how to take care of your mental health – best therapy approaches… the list goes on and on of topics that have been researched, so that you can use methods and approaches that are most likely to bring meaningful change to your life.
I can’t wait to share information on these topics and many more with you through this blog. If there are any specific topics you would like information on please feel free to contact me or write a comment below!