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The Article Critique

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In reviewing the article ‘The 30 Second Effect: An experiment revealing the impact of television commercials on food preferences of preschoolers” by Dina L.G Borzekowski and Thomas N. Robinson, it is imperative to fully analyze the research on various platforms as discussed here-in.

How well is the problem formulated?  What is the purpose of the study?  What is/are the research question(s)?  State the hypothesis and identify the IV and DV.

The problem is well stated and arouses curiosity by the use of ’30 Second effect. The implication that only thirty seconds can impact on a child especially having in mind the recent wave of obesity that has hit the United Sates largely attributed to poor advertising is magnanimous. It is vital to note that this study is highly needed today due to the fact that published studies in advertising research are more than twenty years old hence do not reflect the current trends such as obesity and consumer preferences. The purpose of the study is clearly stated in the objective as to examine whether televised food commercials influence pre-school children preferences. Therefore, the objective clearly articulates what the study aims at accomplishing which is the effect of food advertisements geared towards profit maximization on pre-school kids in the ages of two to six. The research question was: Does televised food commercials influence the food preferences of school going children? Further, does the frequency of advertisements such as twice a day rather than once have any impact across this group watching embedded commercials?

The study hypothesizes that children who watch a videotape with embedded commercials are more likely to prefer the advertised food items in comparison to those children who watched the same videotape without the commercials. Therefore, the independent variable is the type and frequency of commercials in relation to the dependent variable of food preferences. The independent variable in this case being the advertisements themselves were aptly covered in their treatment videotape and control measures. However, the juice scenario, a favorite among pre-school children may prove to be biased since it was displayed for a relatively shorter time of 10 seconds compared to the standard 30 seconds for each and every video-tape. The fact that children are more comfortable when handled by women rather than men ensured that the respondent’s environment was further likened to their home situation.

Describe and critique the measurement used in the study.  How is each variable operationally defined and how adequate are these definitions?  Describe the data collection procedures and their effectiveness. 

In the methodology, a random and uncontrolled study was conducted. Two or three randomly chosen children were invited to view commercials with or without embedded commercials then select their preferences from 9 pairs of identical products. Control or treatment videotapes were used, and then the children were left to watch without the feeling of being monitored. This was crucial in the study of the advertisements’ impact since the children could feel that the environment modeled that in their homes. Random samples totaling to 50 was also crucial in eliminating any bias and expand the basis for statistical tests. Data was chiefly collected through interviews administered by a standard set of questions. First, general warm-up questions were administered so as to ensure the child is relaxed, and then children were asked to pick their favorite items as displayed in several pictures. The fact that a matching picture was provided with its corresponding product such that the child chose between one of the products may have been limiting to only one in two choices but served as a good enough criteria in analyzing food preferences for identical products.

Describe and critique the design of the study.  What design was used?  Is the design appropriate to the kind of research?  Evaluate the extent of causality that can be inferred from the study.

The study was evaluated while having in mind previous media, consumer and educational research conducted on preschoolers. The children’s lesser cognitive and expository skills were well taken care of by use of pictures and appropriate language hence simplifying identification. In testing the null hypothesis that several treatment situations can be applied to come up with a dichotomous outcome variable, Cochran Q statistic was calculated. The test showed that advertisements for various food brands were widely affected by media used and demographic characteristics. However, Cochran’s Q statistic has been found to be limited in its comparison of two independent groups and the consequent comparison of results since the researcher cannot assess the group by its time interaction. However, this test was particularly useful in examining the change in categorical data carried out on multiple observations such as the case in the 30 Second effects.

Identify the type of sampling method used in the study.  Discuss this method in terms of the sampling frame, possible sources of sampling bias, and potential generalizability of the findings.

 A simple random and controlled sampling criterion was used such that it was easily understood. Its simplicity in adoption is highly recommended since the data needed can be obtained free from bias. Further, the population on which a sample is taken obtains equal representation. However, this sampling method is not applicable for homogeneous data. If the several children selected in the sample had been exposed to similar advertisements at the same time as is the case in the family set-up where parent-child routine is highly predictable, the sample taken in a certain locality would be more or less homogenous. This implies that the above technique cannot be used. Further, if a larger sample was taken so as to diversify the study, the sampling method described in this study would be unsustainable. Finally, the results attained in this study cannot be generalized as the case in the home set-up since this would lead to a different case scenario altogether.  Children in the ages of 2 to 6 have short attention spans in a home setup which they are most familiar with. Further, these findings cannot be generalized so as to completely lay blame on corporation’s way of advertisement as responsible for the currently high obesity rates. This is since a conclusive study would have to be carried out on similar advertisement floated by various manufacturers either through television or other popular means on the need to avoid junk food.

Were ethical guidelines followed?  Are the researchers clear in their findings and implications for practice?  Are the authors justified in their conclusions?

The test, by its use of pictures rather than other means of collecting data indicates the practicability of the results and redeems them from any bias. The study is clear in its findings since it proposes a review on advertising techniques used towards children rather than a total condemnation of the entire process which would otherwise indicate bias. The study found out that the food preferences in children were largely affected by the advertisements relating to the particular food item. The authors conclude by stating that young children are highly affected by advertisements, be they positive or negative as hypothesized in the study. Therefore, the need by the parents to actively limit the child’s exposure to television commercials is justified.  

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