Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Can you use research that failed the reproducibility test?

In 2015, the University of Virginia led a new Reproducibility Project that repeated 100 classic psychological studies and they were only able to successfully replicate one-third of them.

But the article goes on to allow for the possibility that one of the factors causing reproducibility failures could be the passage of time.  Specifically, in 1988, a study was done which concluded that our facial expressions can influence our mood - so the more we smile the happier we'll be. 

The stimuli for the experiment was a Far Side comic by Gary Larson.  I'll bet you have never heard of it or him.  Humor has changed quite a bit since the 80's so I wouldn't be at all surprised if the experiment could be replicated now, but only with a contemporary comic.

The failed University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands replication study also had a problem of its own - subject bias.  As with most psychology studies it used psychology students for the sample.  And since this was a classic research study, they may have already been familiar with it.

So what do you think?  Does this invalidate the results of the initial study?  Which issue concerns you more?  Would you use the results?  If so, how?  Have you seen other evidence supporting the basic thesis that facial expressions can influence mood?

(2016, September 26) MacDonald, F. Two More Classic Psychology Studies Just Failed The Reproducibility Test.  Retrieved September 11, 2017, from

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Will a shift in approach be effective for Prudential?

For years insurance companies have tried to get people to save more money for retirement with little success.  In fact, according to a recent study the situation is "worse than you thought," and the average American couple has only $5,000 saved.  (Malito, 2017)

Back in December 2015, Prudential launched a new campaign focusing on social proof as a means of persuasion.  You can look at the commercial here...

My students that semester had high hopes for the campaign.  You can read their comments here...

But since that campaign was discontinued, and I can find no trace of it currently on the website, one has to assume it was not effective. 

And now it is being replaced by a new campaign.  According to Niharika Shah, VP head of brand marketing and advertising "rather than throwing out stats and facts the formula allows us to tell a people-powered story." (Pasquarelli, 2017)

You can look at the new commercial here...

So, what do you think?  Which of the approaches that we discussed in class last night are they using?  Are they using them well?  Do you think they will be successful this time?  Or are Millennials more likely to use new disrupter brands such as Ladder, Fabric and Tomorrow? 

Malito, A. (2017, May 20) It’s worse than you thought: Americans are drastically under-saved for retirement.  Retrieved September 6, 2017, from

Pasquarelli, A. (2017, September 1) Prudential Taps Real-Life Couples to Push Retirement Services.  Retrieved September 6, 2017, from