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Causal Friday:: Why Social Scientists Shouldn’t Run Focus Groups…

February 20th, 2015 · 2 Comments
Causal Friday

I couldn’t resist…from The Onion:

Half Of Hollywood Test Group Screened Placebo Film

LOS ANGELES—Saying the methodology helps them ensure unbiased results in their marketing research, studio executives at Paramount Pictures confirmed that during a Hollywood test screening this week they showed half of all theatergoers a placebo film. “Instead of watching our authentic big-budget studio film, this randomly selected control group saw a movie that lacked any recognizable star, overt ‘high-concept’ premise, rapidly unfolding narrative, or extensive computer-generated effects, so that we could compare their reactions with those of the real movie’s viewers,” said Paramount production head Marc Evans, acknowledging that many members of the control group exhibited the same level of emotional gratification and entertainment as those who viewed the actual upcoming action-adventure blockbuster. “Such a double-blind screening method allows us to determine whether the thrills, laughs, and heartbreak experienced by audience members actually stem from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s performance in the Terminator sequel we have coming out this July, or whether they are simply the result of a placebo effect.” Despite poor findings that showed no significant improvement upon the placebo film, executives said they had already spent $170 million developing the franchise feature and would just give it a wide international release anyway.

Hmmm…would it be completely unreasonable to create treatment and control films in order to determine how much of a wage premium big stars should really get? Come on, an NSF grant would totally cover the cost of that…in related news, just a reminder that sophisticated data analysis is helpful because experiments aren’t always feasible or practical!

Tags: Causal Friday

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Raimes // Apr 7, 2015 at 5:16 pm

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  • 2 // Oct 17, 2015 at 5:28 am

    Causal Friday:: Why Social Scientists Shouldn’t Run Focus Groups……

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