Experiment Testing meet Elle Woods

In class on Wednesday, September 31st we had just begun to talk about experiments when we learned we would be watching Legally Blonde. My first reaction was confusion, because I am pretty familiar with the movie and I could not factor in how Legally Blonde related to experiments, moreover media effecting research. Once the clip was over and the testing complete, it all made sense. Initially, however I made the executive decision to just go with it, because even though I could not see a parallel to the movie and experiments there had to be one.

Upon completion of the testing, I have to admit experimental testing based solely on the activity in class, I would say is very beneficial to how media effects research. Earlier in the week while in small groups, I had contributed the question to our set of five questions for our topic of advertising, about whether or not subliminal advertising was effective. While we did not receive many responses, of the responses, only one of the individuals felt subliminal messaging was an effective means of advertising. The exercise we conducted in class on Wednesday rather disproved any assumptions that subliminal messaging was not in fact effective.

Who knew that we were being introduced to products in movies and television that was not completely apparent? Okay, you got me, I did know. However, what I did not know was how prevalent these products were. Usually I can spot blatant, unabashed advertising. And not just the kind the professor used as an example like from the TV show Heroes. I pride myself on my observatory skills, I do not miss too much, especially in moves. So let me blame lack of sleep on momentary lapse Wednesday during the Legally Blonde clip.

Something that surprised me was that these messages stick with you. Not just the ones you are aware of but the ones you are not, too. It is almost a bit scary to think that brands like Pepsi and Prada are making an impression on us without our being aware of it.

Now back to the whether or not I feel like experiments are beneficial to studying how media effects research. My answer is yes. According to our textbook, “the experiment seeks to gather [this] data under controlled conditions” (pg. 35). Unlike qualitative surveys and open-ended questions used for survey purposes, experiments are less subject to the participants and capable of more control by the researcher. The book goes on to discuss variables using an example of the sugar substitute in diet coke in relation to cancer. The sugar substitute is the independent variable causing the dependent variable, the cancer. In comparison to the movie clip we watched, the independent variable would be the product placement causing and increase or decrease in sales, the dependent variable.

Random assignment and identical treatment are then discussed, imparting on the reader the importance of keeping the experimental conditions equivalent (pg. 36). Ensuring that everyone has an equal exposure to the products placed in the moved and that they are being introduced to them in the same ways ensures equality in the research process with no group more likely to be affected than another.

Another key factor in experiments is the control group. A control group is vital to the success of an experiment, because a researcher’s results can be completely changed by the results of a control group (pg. 37).

When reading over the example assessing the effects of mood on music listening choice, the role of experiments as it pertains to media effecting research is enhanced by the careful detail the experimental testing had on the research. And I completely agree.

Tiffany Lempesis


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