We’ve all heard the phrases, “according to the latest research,” and “a recent study found that.” And, a lot of times, we hear them and wholeheartedly believe the information that follows. But have you ever thought about these studies and the processes necessary to gather all of that information?
When I first started school at The University of Michigan, I was overwhelmed with the available opportunities. I was always extremely intrigued by media and psychology, so when I heard about the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, which included communications and psychology research, I was thrilled. At the time, I was a junior in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts as a communication and media major when I registered for the faculty-directed undergraduate research practicum. It was a class that allowed me to work as a research assistant for ongoing research studies in mass communication and mass media.
After meeting with a graduate student, he informed me of the studies I would be working on, most of which had to do with the psychology of consumer behavior. I had no idea what went into empirical research until I was thrown into it, and it was so fascinating to watch and analyze human behavior on a daily basis. I was not only learning about human behavior but also seeing new data emerge every day.
Each time we started a new study, we would work with our graduate instructor to understand what the study was trying to achieve and the questions we were trying to answer. We would then do our research on similar studies that had been run in the past and try to come up with our own conclusions for what our data would show.
Personally, the best part was working with the participants of the study and walking them through what they needed to do to complete their part in the experiment. Sometimes, this would require the research assistants to change their behavior in order to see if it would change the behavior of the participants. In this instance, we didn’t even need to wait to record and analyze the data because clear patterns were forming right before our eyes with each new participant.
Being behind the scenes of a research study gave me the ability to understand consumer behavior on a different level. There is so much value that lies behind research, and it truly helps us better understand humans and why we may do the things we do or why we make certain choices over another.
Since my time at The University of Michigan, I have grown to be extremely passionate about discovering and critically examining the world that’s around me. By learning more about people and what makes us tick, I believe we become more understanding of each other and each individual’s experiences with the world.
The next time you read about a recent study relevant to your business or market, look up the study cited and do your own research on the topic. It can’t hurt to look into evidence-based research to help your business grow.
Check out The University of Michigan LSA Communications & Media Research page.