Last week as a class we participated in an experiment that involved product placement, memory, and the 2001 film Legally Blonde. The experiment was designed to measure the lasting effects of product placement in media, and in this particular experiment group, we watched the first fifteen minutes or so of Legally Blonde. The experiment contained four parts, a couple of which that were put into place specifically to throw us off from trying to figure out what the experiment was looking for. I liked this aspect. In learning about experiments in Research Methods, we were taught about subjects trying to break through the experiment, and I admit the whole time I was wondering what it was about. In the Research Methods course, I thought it would be easy for students studying things like experiments to figure out what was going on half way through one, but I wasn’t aware until the final step of what was really being looked for in this experiment. The parts designed to throw us off had to do with ourselves, listing our personality traits and basic information. What better way to distract people in an experiment than to get them to discuss themselves?!
I think the design of the experiment, going back and forth from distracting questions to different ways of measuring the product placement we had just witnessed in the film, from a fill in the blank activity to a list of products to identify that were and were not in the film, was very effective. When we watched the extensive clip, I had no idea what to look for. I am in a fundamental writing for film and TV class right now, so I was preoccupied with notions of story, and how the images (which to me felt like one big montage of an opening) progressed the plot-line. It also probably helped that I had never seen the movie before (I know, right?). The fill in the blank portion should have made me aware of the product placement nature of the experiment, since I did fill in a couple of one’s based on products (‘bull’ for RedBull). However, the last part had me only recognizing only three of the products used in the film.
The experimental form of research is the most effective, surpassing the survey and content analysis methods. The main reason this method works the best, as our textbook puts it, is because, “… a researcher is able to make a case that all three of the criteria for documenting causal relationships have been met,” (Sparks 35). This occurs because of the controlled aspect of an experiment, eliminating other third party factors that could potentially skew results. The controlled aspect eliminates ambiguity and makes for more more clear and precise results.