Sample Psychology Essay on Contextual Factors and External Validity

Research Project Report

Conclusions and Validity

During the experiment, 20 regular consumers of soft drinks from The Coca Cola Company were subjected to the decision to differentiate between unlabeled soft drinks and tested on their capability to distinguish products by their manufacturers. From the results of the experiment, only four people were able to successfully distinguish the products from their common producers based on taste alone, giving a proportion of p=0.20, which was below the significance level of 0.25. The standard error was also found to be above the limit. The findings of the study have shown that people can distinguish between soft drinks from different brands based on their taste alone. The use of a blinded method whereby the participants were not allowed to know the brands of the products they tasted and did not have to purchase the drinks to taste, indicates that taste was the only variable under consideration in this experiment. The findings, therefore, contradicted the initial experimental (null) hypothesis and supported the alternate hypothesis.

While the approach taken for the study was good and seemingly effective, a greater scope of data could have been collected to help understand whether there are other products outside the product and marketing characteristics that could have affected the capability to distinguish the products. For instance, further analysis could have been conducted to establish the distribution of performance across genders and also by age. Since this data was not collected, it appears as if there were no confounding variables that could have limited the study. To ignore the effects of confounding variables such as age and gender on the experimental validity, the report should clearly indicate the assumption that neither the gender nor the age of the participants had statistically significant impacts on the ability to distinguish the products. However, this would not necessarily mean that confounding did not occur, especially if the participants were of different genders and of wide age distribution.

Contextual Factors and External Validity

While it is clear that there were no confounding factors in the experiment, there are contextual factors surrounding the performance of and validity of an experiment. For this particular case, there are issues of ethical, cultural, and logical dimensions of the problem, which have to be considered both during the experiment and in the interpretation of the results. The ethical dimensions warrant consideration due to their implications when working with human subjects. There are specific requirements that have to be adhered to when working with human subjects including obtaining informed consent, maintaining human dignity, accessing participants without coercion, and allowing participants to leave at will. Similarly, any experimental procedure has to be conducted with the logical and cultural confines adhered to by the participants. Logical confines refer to the decisions made by participants under full information, and which may affect the quality and quantity of information they provide. When looking at the cultural dimension, it is expected that the researcher should be culturally competent to work with participants from different cultural backgrounds, especially where the target population is as large.

All the mentioned dimensions affect the external validity of the study due to their impacts on the experimental conditions, the operational definitions of various aspects of research, and the general acceptability of the findings. External validity particularly addresses the applicability of the study findings to other contexts (Andrade, 2018). In this particular case, the study would be considered to have achieved external validity based on the fact that both Coca-Cola Company soft drinks and other brands of soft drinks are available across the globe. Moreover, the participants could be taken to represent any probable population. The only challenge to generalization would be the consideration of the sample size, which would be translated to be insufficient for a global population.

Theoretical Implications of Findings

From the findings, it is clear that the hypothesis that consumers are able to distinguish between soft drinks based on their tastes alone. This implies that for consumers who are intending to choose between soft drinks with different brand names, the preferred taste will be the determining factor for the repetitive selection of a particular brand over another. Moreover, these findings correspond to the findings that have been presented in other previous research on consumer choice of soft drinks. For instance, Somasekhar and Kumar (2017), reported that the most considered factor in choosing between soft drinks of the different brands is taste. Factors such as price, promotion, and packaging come secondary to taste in terms of influencing repeat purchase behavior among consumers. According to another study conducted by Mise et al. (2013), the taste of a soft drink is considered as a primary factor through which manufacturers earn a long-lasting relationship with consumers. These previous studies indicate that even outside the theoretical applications of the findings, there are existing practical applications of the same.

The findings of this study not only confirm the alternative hypothesis that consumers can distinguish between soft drinks based on their tastes, but also confirm the basis by which consumers make choices of soft drinks in real life. Furthermore, the findings draw from logic in that the desire of any consumer is always to satisfy the utility for the product they intend to purchase. The utility here is assumed to be the sum of all the factors that constitute the product’s characteristics, and with which they satisfy the need for which they were manufactured. It is therefore arguable that these findings contribute theoretically to the existing literature by providing evidence of a commonly observed phenomenon and also practical to consumers’ decision-making process when they need to select between two or more soft drinks.

Conclusions and Recommendations for further research

Considering the outcomes and the theoretical and practical implications of the findings, it is deductible that the results can be generalized to global populations. Soft drinks are sold under different brands across the world, and while many consumers have their own preferred brands and/or flavors, it is often assumed that the decision to take a particular soft drink is based on the brand names. However, this study shows that people actually can differentiate soft drinks based on their tastes. Previous studies have also shown that taste is considered a primary factor in decision-making towards the choice of a soft drink. The combination of the findings from this study and those from previous studies confirm the feasibility of these results and their possible practical application. These findings may however be limited due to the limited sample size that has been used in this study. It is therefore recommended that future studies on the subject should take into consideration various other factors such as the age and gender of the participants, which can be confounding factors; increase the sample population; and provide a conclusion that would be more generalizable.

References

Andrade, C. (2018). Internal, external, and ecological validity in research design, conduct, and evaluation. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 40(5), 498-499. Retrieved from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6149308/

Mise, J.K., Nair, C., Odera, O., & Ogutu, M. (2013). Factors influencing brand loyalty of soft drink consumers in Kenya and India. International Journal of Business Management and Economic Research, 4(2), 706-713. Retrieved from www.ijbmer.com/docs/volumes/vol4issue2/ijbmer2013040203.pdf

Somasekhar, G., & Kumar, T.K. (2018). Factors influencing on buying behavior of soft drink products: A perceptual study. International Journal of Latest Engineering Research and Applications, 2(12), 93-98. Retrieved from www.ijlera.com/papers/v2-i12/13.201712602.pdf