Lately, there has been much talk throughout the industry about the use of experimental and quasi-experimental designs in the world of advertising effectiveness research. One thing that’s come to my attention is that there are those who would happily stretch the definition of quasi-experimental designs to suit their needs, yet no one seems to ask the appropriate questions to figure out what they’re really doing.
Filed under: Research In A Minute
Choice, it’s something we take for granted, we do it every day. From the time we’re two years old our parents start the mental process of training our brains to discern the minute differences that allow us to make a decision – it often starts with a simple question such as “Do you want the blue one or the red one?”
If you think about it, our lives are full of choices: do I have Chinese or Italian food, should I go see a comedy or drama, should I take the expressway or the back roads? And if you think about how that decision gets made, how your brain evaluates the differences, you’ll probably have a hard time putting your finger on exactly how the process works – it just does. It’s an autonomous process that happens in our subconscious where we weigh and evaluate everything we know. We’ve evolved to make decisions using this process because it’s efficient and it works.
Now let’s take another scenario. A mother is offering a two year old a popsicle but instead of asking do you want the blue one or the red one, she asks the toddler, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how interested are you in the blue one?” You can imagine what happens next, perhaps some puzzled looks, some crying and eventually the toddler will just blurt out that they want the blue one.
The reality is that most survey research today circumvents our biological decision making process. It tries to dissect the elements of choice and measure them separately as unique and distinct measures when, in reality, decisions involve more than what can be accounted for in a single metric. Perhaps the two year old is extremely interested in the blue popsicle and rates it a 9 out of 10 but because they always eat the red one they give it a 7 out of 10. If you used ratings alone you’d think blue is the winner but perhaps our two year old is risk adverse and defaults to a familiar behavior – the red popsicle. Take any example and “researchize” it and it’s clear something is wrong with research today. Thinking about dinner, how likely are you to eat Chinese food tonight – very likely, somewhat likely, etc? Sounds stupid doesn’t it?…