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Statistics LibreTexts

32.1: How We Think Science Should Work

  • Page ID
    8876
  • Let’s say that we are interested in a research project on how children choose what to eat. This is a question that was asked in a study by the well-known eating researcher Brian Wansink and his colleagues in 2012. The standard (and, as we will see, somewhat naive) view goes something like this:

    • You start with a hypothesis
      • Branding with popular characters should cause children to choose “healthy” food more often
    • You collect some data
      • Offer children the choice between a cookie and an apple with either an Elmo-branded sticker or a control sticker, and record what they choose
    • You do statistics to test the null hypothesis
      • “The preplanned comparison shows Elmo-branded apples were associated with an increase in a child’s selection of an apple over a cookie, from 20.7% to 33.8% (χ2\chi^2=5.158; P=.02)” (Wansink, Just, and Payne 2012)
    • You make a conclusion based on the data
      • “This study suggests that the use of branding or appealing branded characters may benefit healthier foods more than they benefit indulgent, more highly processed foods. Just as attractive names have been shown to increase the selection of healthier foods in school lunchrooms, brands and cartoon characters could do the same with young children.”(Wansink, Just, and Payne 2012)