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In this paper I am going to analyze the article "What to do on spring break?"by Wirtz, Kruger, Scollon and Diener . The paper is divided in to two part; descriptive and evaluation. The first part is the descriptive part, the aim by this part is to only describe how the article is build and put together, highlighting important elements. The evaluation, as the second part of the paper, is aimed to critical view the article. Here the article will be analyzed and I will try to do my best to highlight the strong elements of the article and the weaker elements and give some suggestions to what could be better.
The descriptive part
In the descriptive part, there will be a review of the important components of the article; this section is intended to only provide a description of the various important elements in the article.
2.1 The theme and purpose
The main theme of this article is to, by research, look at what affects and guides the choices of future activities, based on past experience. Thus, how our previous experiences are formed and how these potentially affect the choices of activities in the future. The article is looking into how predicted, on-line and remembered experience is influencing the desire to make similar choices in the future .
This article is related to the social science of psychology. Psychology is the study of an individual's sensing and perception of their surroundings and is about thinking and feeling processes in individuals and how these processes unfold to a certain behavior. The article is related to this discipline because of its aim to reveal a person's process in choosing activities; this is about identifying how feelings and thoughts of people are affecting choices and behaviors. This goes for individual internal processes and can therefore be seen within the contexts of psychology .
The main question of this article is; "When individuals choose future activities on the basis of their past experiences, what guides those choice?" . The psychological principle state that there are associations between people experiences and behaviors and explains that people re-choose similar experiences on the basis of how much they enjoyed the experience they use to compare. But earlier research shows that the memories of peoples experience (remembered experience) often are different from what they report during experiencing (on-line experience) the activity . Because of this the authors suspect that; "it is remembered experience, not on-line experience, that best predicts choice" . Without this being visible, this is the article's assertion, in other words, hypothesis 1 (H1). But looking into other research they also find an interesting assumption that the expectations people hold before the activity (predicted experience) also plays a part in re-choosing (repeat experience) an activity. This hypothesis can be seen as the second hypothesis (H2). This leaves the research with the question of; how and to what degree do predicted experience, on-line experience and remembered experience influence the desire to repeat experience .
Since the articles theme is based on psychological principal it's difficult to argue that the theme is new, and based on the secondary sources they are using in the text, it seems like this is done before, and therefore we can say that the theme is not new. However, the context in which the research is put into can be seen as new. This meaning that their use of students, as the sample, can be a new context of the research, but this is in no way highlighted in the article.
2.2 The theoretical approach
The article contains an explicit non-visible model of how the three factors of experience (predicted, on-line and remembered) influences the choosing of repeating an activity (experience).The model sums up their theoretical approach in that it gives a good explanation on what this is about and who it is predicted to be. Using this model as an starting point in the research the authors aim is to see how these factors influence the desire to repeating an experience, if they influence each other and if there are some factors that has an stronger influence that the others .
This articles aim is to describe the phenomena of future choices, based on the past experiences. In other words, what makes the different factors (predicted, on-line and remembered) influence the decision of making a similar activity again. They do this by researching on the different factors individually, and what they together will determine. The aim is to find the answers and by highlighting this theme get more information about the subject that can be use in other context later on .
"The goal of descriptive research is to present a picture of the specific details of a situation, social setting, or relationship" . The research is conducted with quantitative method and the approach used is descriptive. Using the descriptive approach gives details on a phenomenon that is already known. The descriptive approach focuses on the question "who?" and "what?" to find the results they want . As the approach to find their data they use a longitudinal design. The longitudinal design can often be prospective or retrospective. Prospective means that the researchers follow their sample forward in time using a panel survey. A panel survey means that the survey is done two times or more with the same question to the same sample. Using retrospective means that the sample is asked question about past conditions . Wirtz et al. uses a mix of prospective and retrospective questionnaires, they also uses the survey on-line to get the "moment by moment" measurements.
The authors have investigated students going on spring break, using the spring break as the activity they were set out to measure in this research. They have used 41 students, of this 21 is women and 20 are men. The age of the sample is ranging from 17 to 23. Originally there were 46 students who were supposed to be in the sample, but for different reasons there were five of the students who could not be considered a part of the sample . How the sample of students is selected is not given any information about so it is impossible to say anything about how they have done this, for example if they have used random selection or if they have done a selective sample.
The measures were done in a period of eight weeks and at six different points of time. The first were two weeks before the student's spring break and was done by e-mail, the next were done only two days before going on the spring break, this were done by using their given PDA (personal data assistant). During the spring break the respondents, by using the PDA, where randomly surveyed seven times a day. After the spring break they were surveyed two more times, two to four days after and four weeks after and when the respondents came to collect their payment. The last one was a dependent questioner and focused on their desire to repeat spring break .
The surveys were conducted to measure three different criteria; "positive affect, negative affect and the overall subjective experience" . They measured the intensity of five positive and five negative emotions related to the spring break, by using a scale from 0 to 6 (not at all to maximum). Also they use three statements and measured the respondent's level of agreement using the scale of 1 to 5 (disagree to agree). The three statements were intended to capture the expectations and were; (a) "I expect to enjoy spring break", (b) "I think this break will be fun" and (c) "I will be satisfied with this vacation" . These question were changed to the right verb tens when used on-line and after .
After the data collections the authors used three different ways to analyze the findings. First they used their data in a column chart, to see the mean levels of the three different elements (predicted, on-line and remembered). Second, they analyze the relations between the time periods (points when the survey was taken) and the three elements using a zero-order correlations analysis. The last analysis they did was the path analysis, SEM (Structural Equations model), they did this to see how the three elements affects the desire to repeat experience and to witch degree .
In this part of the paper I am going to give an evaluation of the article, and look into what they have done, why they have done this and if it could have been done different. I am also going to look at the overall quality of the article and how the authors can assure that their article is the best it can be.
3.1 Understanding the concept
The authors have provided, on the basis of their theoretical approach, an explicit model which shows the overall approach to the present problem . The theoretical model is adequately integrated in the literature because it contains all the aspects that the authors set out to measure.
The literature review is well done by their use of different sources. They use different theories to back up their assumptions of what affects future choices, also they use good examples from earlier research that have the same topic of revealing what affects choice . The use of literature from different fields, theory, research and other sources shows that their research are good integrated in previous theory and that they have done a effort for getting information from different literature.
By suggesting that predicted, on-line and remembered experience all together affects the desire to repeat the experience the model is clearly defined before going into the method part of the article. But this could have been easier to understand if they had used a visual model that shows what they predicted to find in their research. The design of the model is logical because of its base in previous literature but by visualizing this model it would make it easier to understand and to see the whole picture of the theory. The assumption is that the three elements affect the future choices . Under I have done an example of how they could conduct a visible model for testing:
The concepts of the article are not all clearly defined. For example the elements in the model poorly are described. They have not given any good explanations for what predicted, on-line and remembered experience is. They have in other words, taken it for granted that everyone reading this article has a prior opinion on what these is and what they imply. To give the readers a basis for what these elements are and means are important, this is because these elements are the most important in the research. Had they done this it would be easier to understand and prevent misunderstanding of the context. The relationships between the three elements, on the other hand, are given a good definition and explanation by describing what they imply, how they work, and by using other sources to back this up .
Stating if the authors have been innovative is difficult. The theme itself is not new, this one can see on the earlier research they use as sources, this has been done before . But there is nothing indicating that the context of using students and the spring break as the field are new. By simply highlighting if this has been done earlier in similar context it would help clarifying if they have been innovative. At the same time one can assume that because they do not refer to any similar earlier studies, that this context might be new and innovative.
In the article the authors give a fairly good explanation to what the theoretical model applies to. The model applies and can be used to understanding how different aspects affect and relates to future choices concerning activities. The model is in a high degree general and can be used in other situations. This is because it is not attached down to a specific field, like for example, health. In this article the field is psychology and this is a field that can be used in many other underlying fields, such as tourism, hotel, service etc.. One example is that adventure operators can use the information this article provides to conduct a similar research in one of their adventure, and then revealing important facts that can be useful in making good product that customers desire to choose again.
3.2 Generalizability and operationalization
The chosen research design does fit the research question. By using longitudinal design the authors capture all the data at several points before, during and after the experience, this gives them good information on all the elements that affects the respondent's throughout the experience, from the beginning to the end. And as earlier researches mentions; the factors before and after can be equally important, as the on-line, in the choosing of future activities .
It is difficult to state if the chosen population is good because of the authors do not give a good impression of what the population is suppose to be. In the article the authors start with giving an impression of that the aim is to use the research and the results on all kinds of people, by generalizing the findings, in other words the population here seems to be all humans. But looking at their selection of respondents (the sample) used to collect the data and finding, gives the impression of that they only wishes to generalize this to the population the sample is selected from, in other words the population seems to be only students . This is based on that the sample must be selected within the current population and holds in common the same criteria, if the aim is to generalized or use the results, in other words the population must be students . This shows the difficulty of defining the population of the article, if the authors had done this clearly it would make it easier to understand .
Because of the lack of information in the article about the population it is also difficult to say something if the planned sample is representative and large enough. But if the aim is to use these findings to generalize to the hole population it is certain that the sample is too small . Based on the size of the selected population, researchers must select their sample to match the population. For example if the population is a big organization with 25Â 000 employees, the sample need to big enough for it to be representative, the sample also needs to be selected based on getting respondents that represent the population good . If the population is students, it is impossible to say anything about if the sample is good enough. If the authors had included some information on the selected population, the characteristic and the way selection of the sample had been done, it would be possible to say anything about the sample are representative and large enough .
Operationalization is about capturing all aspects, using the measurement, in the best possible way. In other words, it is about how the measurements (questions and statements) are formed and set up for securing that they cover all relevant elements and that they capture all the important information . The operationalization of the measurements in this research is more or less good. The questions asked (as described earlier) are formed with scale responsive. This is a good way to make sure of that the respondents can give their own interpretation of their opinion. They also have changed the formulation of the statement according to at what time the statements are given. If the answers had been formulated in advance the respondents might had several degrees of interpretation about what the answers means .
For example, if one asks the question about how a stay in a hotel has been and the answer options given are; bad, okay and very good, the different people might have different interpretations of what is bad and good. Therefore, the findings would not be entirely correct. However, if there is provided a scale that gives the possibilities to rate the stay from poor to good, the findings would be more precise, as a result of the respondents themselves interpret what was good or bad.
However, if they wanted to do the operationalization even better they should have added to all the question and statements the possibility to not answer, like an alternative response that says; "Do not know". This gives the respondents that do not have a specific opinion about the question the opportunity to state "I don't know". If this is omitted, the respondents have to give an answer they do not quite believe or stand for . This is not taken to consideration in the article and does that the operationalization is not at its best.
3.3 Quality and Falsification
Both reliability and validity contribute to determine if the quality of the study is adequate or not. "Reliability relates to the consistency or the dependability of a measure" . This means that doing the same measurement again would give the same results. Validity is, on the other hand, about if the researcher's measure what they are set out to measure. For the validity being high the reliability must be high. The authors have used both correlation analysis and path analysis, which both provides more or less similar results in seeing the relationships between the elements, this indicate that the reliability is high .
Because of the good operationalization concerning the question and how they carry out the study by using the longitudinal design the authors, more or less, have succeeded in measuring what they were meant to measure, and they get the results they wanted to get, this indicate that the validity of the article also is high . The authors initially describe what it is they want to research. This is, as mentioned earlier, what influences the choices one makes about future experiences. So by collecting the data trough surveys and analyzing it, the authors present what the result is. The result, which will be discussed later, refers to the factors that affect selections of future experiences, in other words, the authors have measured what they should measure .
Wirtz et al. open for falsification by realizing and highlighting the articles limitations and obstacles. Falsification is about knowing and be aware of that the assumptions one make can be wrong. That the authors are aware of the limitations and weaknesses of article and open for falsification helps to give credibility to the work . In the last part of the article they highlight that one of the limitations of the article is that the results of the study only indicates that the students wish to repeat the experience, they do not actually test that they to chose a similar experience next time. And at the same time they recommend further research on what the future behavior is . But they do not open for falsification in use of their hypothesis. When using hypostases it is necessary to create two different hypotheses on the same assumption. One is suppose to be negative (H0) and the other are positive (H1). When testing these hypothesis and the results confirm H0, one would have a result supporting the negative assumption, if the result do not confirm H0, this is dismissed an H1 is confirmed . In the article the authors propose one assumption; "it is remembered experience, not on-line experience, that best predicts choice" . If the authors had used this assumption to make hypotheses, tested this, and confirmed or dismissed H0, they would have better highlighting the falsification.
3.4 Analyzing the findings
By using the correlation analysis and path analysis for testing the relation and affects of the three factors (predicted, on-line and remembered) the authors do a good job in answering the question. The analyses fit because they use the collected data, interprets it and gives the answers to the question. Correlation analysis is used to see the relations strengths and direction . By using the correlations analysis the authors get information if there is relationship between variables, the factors and the desire to repeat experience . A path analysis is a regression analysis that contains multiple equations, and describes how different variables (dependent and independent direct and indirect affect each other . In the article the variables are; predicted, on-line, remembered and repeat experience. Predicted is independent because it is nothing that affects it, but it affects all the other variables. On-line and remembered are dependent because they are affected by predicted but they are also independent because they affect repeat experience. And repeat experience is dependent because it is affected by the other variables. By doing this analysis the authors get the results of what affects and how it affects repeat experience (choice). This makes the analyzed fit for the present question .
The findings of these analyses are both significant and not significant. The way they are significant is that the findings do give answers to the question. The correlations results confirm that there are relations between the variables and by doing the path analysis (SEM) they test the results given by the first analysis, the correlation, doing this test is called a test of significance , and they get information of the strength of these results (the significance). Testing the significance is seeing if the results are what one looked for and if they could be used to the selected population . The results of the correlation analysis shows that; "the more favorably the trip was predicted, experienced and remembered, the more the participants desired to repeat it" . The path analysis shows that remembered experience (affected by predicted and on-line) was the variable that influenced the desire to repeat experience. But the analysis also showed that predicted could direct affect remembered . But if assuming that the aim is to generalize this to all, these findings is not significant because of the sample size is not representative to the population .
"Operationalism is a key to achieving objectivity" . Objectivity means that researchers should strive to achieve the research that is free of values. In other words, that the research should not be affected by the researcher's subjective opinions and values . On the basis of many different elements, it seems as if the authors of this article have good objectivity. For example, one can see this in the range of theory as mentioned earlier, they used a good mix of different theories and previous researches. And they have built up their research model on the basis of this theory . What they claim in the article, is verified by another theory or previous research. But since they do not highlighted how they have selected their secondary data, it is difficult to say if they have been completely objective, they could have selected data on their subjective opinion, only choosing the literature they personally thought were good. Being objective when selecting data means that; personal opinions are not affecting the assessment of sources.
Also, when looking at the measurements and the design of the measurement devices it shows that they made an effort to keep the work objective. Participants responded to the survey trough mail and the use of PDAs, this means that the researchers are not present when the answers are given and cannot be involved in influencing participants' answers. Sometimes you can experience that when a researcher are present during the survey participants does not answer their own subjective opinion, but rather answer what they think is right. Also the fact that the questions are formulated to deal with participants' emotions are involved in contributing to the work objectively. This is because it is harder for participants to answer what they think is right when talking about their own feelings.
On the basis of the analysis in this paper, it is easy to conclude that in general this article is quite good. Wirtz et al. have included ale the necessary parts of an quantitative article, they have started whit a theory part, that shows what they have based their research on, they have conducted a method part that shows information about the sample, how they have collected data and how it has been analyzed. After that they have presented and discussed the findings and limitations of the article. All this is good work, but by analyzing the article many critical things is revealed. Among other things they have an overall lack of information about the population and the sample; this makes it difficult to understand what they want whit these results. A very positive thing about the article is that they have realized that these results need further investigation; this is a god step to show that they are open for falsification.