So we’re asked to watch the first 20 minutes of Legally Blonde and be alert, so we can participate in an experiment. We weren’t told what to look for, just that we needed to pay attention to what was on the screen. I know I spent most of the time on the lookout for things out of the ordinary, hoping whatever I found would be what my professor wanted me to find. What I wound up picking up on was the fact that Warner, the initial love interest of Elle (the main character for the handful of people that have not seen the film yet), was a 3rd, and later we find out that his brother is also a 3rd, something that is impossible unless one of them is named after the mother. Now I didn’t shut my brain down but I did pick up on this and for some reason thought that would be what the professor was looking for.
After watching the clip we were asked to fill out a form, that asked for our demographics (age, race, gender, and concentration), and were asked to give a quick opinion of what we had just seen. Next we were given 20 incomplete words and were asked to fill in letters to make them words, then we were asked to identify what words, from a list, we felt described us. Finally we were asked to determine whether 20 brands were displayed at some point in the movie and what are opinion of the ones that were included were (rating them on a scale of 1-10).
Turns out that aside from the demographics the only task she was actually. The whole point of the survey was to gage our opinion of the brands in the clip, and the other tasks (aside from the demographic information) were all misdirects. We learned that often surveyors will use tactics like that to keep the survey takers on their toes. It certainly makes sense to do this as it guarantees more honest responses, as the participant isn’t trying to give the answer they think the surveyors want.
Experiments are the best way to study media effects, they allow you to see exactly how something happens. In this scenario the researcher would learn about the participants’ Brand awareness, whether they weren’t very aware of the various brands (I know I saw some but completely looked over many others), as well as their opinion of the brands. This particular experiment used some misdirection to ensure that the answers would be as honest as possible, which improves the accuracy of the experiment. Had this been done through a group study or similar situation the responses could have been contaminated; for example I saw several magazines, but I did not zone in on any specific title, if the group had been asked about magazines (also a problem with group studies etc, as the conversation is directed, which can affect how the participants respond), I likely would have gone along with whatever title was mentioned by someone who actually recognized a title