June is food month on the ERM blog! This story's about the headline, Loud music makes you eat bad food?!?!?Whaaaaaaatever!
QRock 100.7 was one of several news outlets that had fun describing this study for its readers.
Let's find out what kind of study was conducted to test the claim. The Q100.7 journalist wrote:
A new study found loud music makes us more likely to order unhealthy food when we’re dining out. A new study in Sweden found loud music in restaurants makes us more likely to choose unhealthy menu options. And we’re more likely to go with something healthy like a salad when the music ISN’T so loud.
Researchers went to a café and played music at different decibel levels to see how it affected what people ordered. Either 55 decibels, which is like background chatter or the hum from a refrigerator . . . or 70 decibels, which is closer to a vacuum cleaner.
And when they cranked it to up 70, people were 20% more likely to order something unhealthy, like a burger and fries.
They did it over the course of several days and kept getting the same results. So the study seems pretty legit.
a) OK, go: What seems to be the independent variable in this study? What were its levels? How was it operationalized?
b) What seems to be the dependent variable? How was it operationalized? Think specifically about how they might have operationalized the concept "unhealthy."
c) Do you think this study counts as an experiment or a quasi-experiment? Explain your answer.
d) This study can be called a "field study" or perhaps a "field experiment". Why?
e) To what extent can this study support the claim that loud music makes you eat bad food? Apply covariance, temporal precedence, and internal validity to your response.
f) If you were manipulating the loudness of the music for a study like this, how might you do so in order to ensure it was the music, and not other restaurant factors, were responsible for the increase in ordering "unhealthy" food?
g) The Q100.7 journalist argues that the study seems "pretty legit." What do you think the journalist meant by this phrase?
h) The study on food and music volume are summarized in an open-access conference abstract, published here. You might be surprised to read, contrary to the journalist's report, that the field study was conducted on only two days--with one day at 50db and the other at 70 db. How does this change your thoughts about the study?
g) Conference presentations are not quite the same as peer-reviewed journal publications. Take a moment (and use your PSYCinfo skills) to decide if the authors, Biswas, Lund, and Szocs, have published this work yet in a peer reviewed journal. Why might journalists choose to cover a story that has only been presented at a conference instead of peer-reviewed? Is this a good practice in general?