Have you ever seen those magazine articles entitled, "What does your _____ say about you?" Magazines like to make us think we can use people's pets, music preferences, Saturday wardrobe, or cars as secret keys to making personality judgments about them. Is that really possible?
Of course, magazine articles like these aren't meant to be scientifically rigorous--they are mainly for entertainment. Nevertheless, what is this particular article able to say? Use your research methods skills to interrogate this piece.
a. Read the first three paragraphs--what sources of evidence does the author use for his claims?
b. Read the fourth paragraph--the one about the personalities of people who order light beers. The paragraph states,
Domestic Light Beer (Bud Light, Miller Light)
You’re impulsive and quick to take risks. You’re respectful of authority, accepting of most people, and generally easy to get along with.
c. Another part of this article states that people who order vodka "care about fashion and appearance." How might a study be conducted that would be able to test whether people who order vodka are more fashion-conscious? Make a graph of data that would support this claim.
a. It seems that the authors used three sources of data. One was a published study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh; this study is mentioned in the first sentence but its findings are not discussed further in this article. Another source of data was market research reports which had been produced by some market research companies. A third source was anecdotal--that is, experiential evidence--gathered from bartenders. (You might pause to think about the credibility and accuracy of these three types of data, using guidelines from Chapter 2.)
b. This paragraph is describing bivariate assocations between the variable, "preference for light beer" and various personality traits. One association claim you could make is, "preference for light beer is associated with impulsivity." Another could be, "preference for light beer is associated with risk taking," and so on.
c. In order to show that people who order vodka "care about fashion and appearance," researchers would select a sample of people and measure both their tendency to order vodka and their degree of interest in fashion and appearance. Then they would see whether the two variables are correlated in the sample. Picture the correlation as a scatterplot with "tendency to order vodka" on one axis and "degree of interest in fashion and appearance" on the other axis. The dots (each representing one person) would arrange themselves in a cloud of points sloping upward, representing a positive association between these two variables.
Follow up question--using the answer to Question c, decide how you could test the association claims made in Question b. How could you graph these claims?