October 2012 Archives

Amazon Conducts Tablet Survey

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A day after Apple released its iPad mini, Amazon sent out a survey to their email subscribers asking them to weigh in on the current state of the tablet market. The survey focuses on how consumers consider various tablet features and how much consumers actually know about the variety of devices on the market from Apple, Google, Amazon and Samsung. An incentive to take this survey was a $5 gift card from Amazon to use on their site.

I think this seems like a good idea for Amazon. Not all Amazon users utilize the site for technological devices so they get a pretty large range of people to survey being that Amazon sells a large variety of products. It is also a good incentive to give out the gift card. As we learned in the textbook, surveys seem to be more effective at generating responses when incentives are included. Results of the survey have not been released, however, Amazon may never release the survey results and use what they found to better advertise their own tablet.

A screenshot of the Amazon Tablet Survey is shown below:
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Information Source:
http://www.tuaw.com/2012/10/24/amazon-launches-survey-of-would-be-tablet-buyers/

America's Facebook Generation Is Reading Strong

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A study by Pew Research center was discussed by NPR in an article. They claims the fact seems surprising that the Facebook generation of young adults seems to be reading more books than believed, states the article. Pew's study found that 60 percent of Americans under 30 used the library in the past year. In the reading habits of young Americans, 8 in 10 Americans under age 30 have read a book in the past year. This is compared to 7 in 10 adults in general. The study summarizes that [young adults] "Are reading, more likely to read and more likely to use a library in comparison to adults".

The problem with this study seems to be a little obvious. Being that there are more young adults in college, we can already assume they are reading more than adults who are busier with full-time jobs and raising children. These college students are also spending more time in libraries studying for exams and doing homework. As many students live near libraries on college campuses, or close to college campuses, it seems likely to state they are in libraries more than adults because they have close access. There is also no baseline to compare that current young adults are reading more than in the past so we can't say young adults are reading more during this "Facebook generation" compared to the former "non-Facebook generation". Where is Pew Research getting this baseline of "non-Facebook" users? There is no article/abstract to formulate the fact that current Facebook users are reading more.

The article doesn't explain how results were gathered from a population. We cannot infer the validity of the results when we don't know how the population was sampled. It also does not explain how frequently or when exactly the results were recorded. This lacks the reliability measure. Were the results taken each month? Or were they concluded after only one month? The article does not give this background information therefore the results seem confusing and improperly summarized in this article by NPR.

Article Source:
http://www.npr.org/2012/10/23/163414069/americas-facebook-generation-is-reading-strong


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Confidence Levels

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This is the first portion of 3 polls by Gallup, set up to determine how much confidence Americans have in a variety of U.S. institutions. This poll has been conducted annually since 1993, beginning every few years in 1973. Each time the poll has concluded the military as the institution with the most confidence. The only exception was in 1997 when small businesses edged it out. It's interesting to read below the results that confidence in most of the institutions is below their historical averages. This could be due to the reflection of America's general state of dissatisfaction with current conditions. As far as validity and reliability, I'm not quite sure the sample population is representable of all Americans. Although the sample was randomly drawn out of 1,004 Americans, this does not seem like a large enough population to represent the millions of U.S. citizens. The survey was also conducted by landline phone which could make the results only pertaining to those who can afford a landline phone, residence or who have the general time to complete the poll. Those who only have cell phones (roughly citizens of ages 18-30) and not landline phones presumably were not included in the results.

Poll Source:
http://www.gallup.com/poll/155258/Confidence-Public-Schools-New-Low.aspx

Lunch Breaks

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I found this particular survey on the Memphis Business Journal blog site. It summarized previous findings that "80% of North Americans do not take a lunch break". I am unsure where they got this specific number because the results in the study described in the article do not add up to 80%. What they did find, however, is a growing amount of employees eating lunch at their desks while continuing work. After the short article, a reader is able to fill out the survey for themselves. What I found interesting was the small note at the bottom of the survey. The Memphis Business Journal made sure that participants were aware that results were only relative towards this blog's readers. I think this was important to mention because if you weren't aware of this you may think these were the results of all employees (which they made it seem in the title). But in the fine print you can recognize that only readers of this specific blog are taking part in the survey. So the results are not generalizable, but interesting for other bloggers and readers to notice.

Survey Source:
http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/blog/2012/10/lunch-break-not-on-the-menu-for-nearly.html

Gum Chewing Worsens Memory?

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This study was completed at Cardiff University with 97 students. These students were asked to recall either a short sequence of letters or identify a missing item in a list. This memory test was completed on the independent variable of chewing gum. The control group did not receive chewing gum. The dependent variable is measured by the ability of memory recall. The study found that students who chewed gum performed significantly worse and researchers speculate that the tongue, mouth, and jaw movements of gum chewing disrupt short-term memory.

I do not believe this is a reliable study. The only subjects in the experiment were from this particular university and there are no specific details to their mental capabilities prior or how they were selected, so this experiment lacks a random sample needed in an experiment. All participants are from the same geographical region so the study lacks external validity. This study can not be generalized to all people. The researchers also do not specify what they were looking for as far as reaction speed or define what is "worse" in terms of testing to the control group who did not chew gum.

I would assume there are various other components that would contribute to memory in a short-term memory test, such as the amount of sleep, nutrition and physical activity each subject received for the days before the test was taken. This shows a lack of internal validity with the lack of eliminating third variables. Due to the lack of many necessary components of a reliable experiment we cannot infer causation that gum chewing actually hinders memory recall.

Research Source:
http://www.prevention.com/health/brain-games/chewing-gum-hurts-short-term-memory-study

Are Americans Exercising More?

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According to a random sample of 31,364 adults aged 18 and older, Americans are exercising slightly more in 2012. This particular study was conducted with a random sample of adults living in all 50 U.S. states, selected using random-digit-dial sampling. This study could be generalized to all of America due to the fact that one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is plus or minus 1 percentage point. Gallup conducted this research and said their numbers were selcted at random within landline telephone numbers and cellular numbers, but mostly with landline numbers.

What we have learned in class is that landline phones are difficult to generalize due to the fact that numerous people have either put their landline phone on the "do not call registry" or have completely gotten rid of their landline for a cellular phone instead. The study does not say which time of day they called the research participants, which could play a large role in the type of lifestyle the participant lives. We could assume that if they called participants during the work day, they may be stay-at-home or unemployed adults who have the extra time to exercise compared to those with busy work styles.

Another speculation we discussed in class is truth. Participants may feel guilty for not exercising 30 or more minutes, three times a week so they could feel obligated to lie and say that they have been exercising to the researchers over the phone. There is also a downfall to this study due to the fact that some states sampled more than others (although at random) may have warmer weather year round, which makes exercising much easier for them compared to frigid winter states.

Research Source:
http://www.gallup.com/poll/157505/americans-exercising-slightly-2012.aspx

Student Loan Debt

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The Huffington Post released an article on September 27th 2012 titled "Student Loan Debt Stretches To New Record Number Of Households: Pew Research Analysis". According to a study conducted by Pew Research, nearly 1 in 5 U.S. households are carrying the biggest burdens of student loan debt. The study found that 22.4 million households, or 19% had college debt in 2010. This is up from 15% in 2007. Pew Research claims this represents the biggest three-year increase in student debt in more than two decades.

This study is based on the Survey of Consumer Finances, conducted every three years and sponsored by the Federal Reserve. The numbers are as of 2010, the latest available for that survey. This can be described as a longitudinal study for its results being recorded over a three-year time span.

The article seems valid being that data comes from official government documents regarding student loans and income levels that have a good representative of the entire population. The article also considers possible third variables contributing to the fact that tuition costs have risen and college enrollment has increased within the last few years.

A fault I would point out in this research is that it didn't necessarily need to be done. It seems likely to infer without research that student debt continually increases as the cost of higher education increases year after year. As unemployment rates continually rise, it seems likely to infer that it is becoming more and more difficult for individuals to pay their student loans so they are inquiring more debt. In conclusion, this research shows convergent validity; that the results are similar with current phenomena.

Article Source:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/26/student-loan-debt-households-record_n_1917681.html

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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