say studying individuals, not large groups, is the only way to
Calif. — People like to read studies. This, we at
StudyFinds, know to be true. But we also know that people like to
debate — and often debunk — the veracity and viability of studies,
too. Now a study that actually studied studies seems to side with the
naysayers, finding that research which evaluates large groups of
people leads to skewed results. In order to get a better and more
accurate grasp of mankind, the authors say, scientists need to study
from the University of California at Berkeley believe that big data
can be a big mess, especially for health practitioners who depend on
medical research to guide them in their practices. That’s because
human beings can be so markedly different from one another,
often-studied subjects like mental health and physiology can yield
unreliable conclusions when coming from massive segments of a
mental disorders, emotions, and behaviors are expressed within
individual people, over time. A snapshot of many people at one moment
in time can’t capture these phenomena,” argues study lead author
Aaron Fisher, an assistant professor of psychology at the university,
collaborated with scientists from Drexel University and the
University of Groningen in the Netherlands to analyze data on hundreds
of adults — some mentally or physically sound, others suffering from
various conditions such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic
stress disorder. Participants had completed surveys about their mental
health and had their heart rates monitored via electrocardiogram.
used the data to conduct six different experiments. They sought to
find out whether the conclusions of each study would successfully
apply to participants individually.
study that focused on how frequently depression sufferers reported
feeling worried. Results tallied from the pool of participants showed
that depressed people worry a significant amount. But when the
analysis was applied individually, the results were all over the map.
Some participants worried hardly at all, while others were notably
beyond the group average.
experiment that centered around the link between fear and avoidance
showed a strong correlation when measured as a group. Yet a
significant number of participants who experienced fear had no issues
with avoiding various activities.
all six experiments, the authors could not show that what was
concluded for the group applied to most individuals.
you want to know what individuals feel or how they become sick, you
have to conduct research on individuals, not on groups,” says Fisher,
who argues that studies should simply be modified instead of
completely ignored. “People shouldn’t necessarily lose faith in
medical or social science. Instead, they should see the potential to
conduct scientific studies as a part of routine care. This is how we
can truly personalize medicine.”
studywas published June
18, 2018 in the Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciencesjournal.