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‘Dr. Ramani’ reaching masses with research via ‘reality TV’

May 12, 2011

Category: A Closer Look

Some researchers avoid news interviews because they see them as experiments with unknown outcomes and no control groups. Not Cal State L.A. Associate Professor of Psychology Ramani Durvasula; while she recognizes the risks, she participates eagerly, seeing interviews as opportunities to improve public health.

Ramani DurvasulaDurvasula is carving out a niche as a “go-to” articulate, informed psychologist, providing expertise on critical issues — such as obesity and HIV — for a range of television programs, including on CNN, the E! network and in a Bravo network series called “Thintervention.” Sometimes she’s simply called “Dr. Ramani.”

Her media work is profiled in an article in the March 2011 “Monitor on Psychology,” the magazine of the American Psychological Association. Subtitled “A California State University psychology professor is bringing evidence-based practice to reality television,” the article explores some landmines in the TV world and offers pointers for researchers looking to communicate with journalists — and the public.

In it, she says the media experience has expanded the reach of her work and made her a better psychologist:

“I have a tremendous responsibility to get my facts straight — even more so than when I’m teaching a bunch of undergraduates who are falling asleep, or writing a journal article that five people will read,” Durvasula says.

With the continuing growth of reality television, Durvasula says, “never before has human nature in its raw form been such a focus of televised media, and never before have the insights of well-trained psychologists been needed more.”

Here’s the full article: “On-air interventions” in Monitor on Psychology.

Here’s a recent profile from the Winter 2011 issue of CSULA Today: “The Doctor is IN” .

— Sean Kearns

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