Thursday, October 16, 2008

Research Methods

Completed and turned in October 16th, 2008.

My research methods rely first and foremost on the process I have laid out for my project, which can be compared, simply, to the scientific method. (While this method seems obvious, it is important to complete each step fully before proceeding in order to achieve a full scope on my topic.)

  1. Ask a Question: This was completed early on, during my preliminary proposal. Basically, I am asking “How does cuteness affect people?”
  2. Do Background Research: This comprises much of my project and involves searching written sources
  3. Construct a Hypothesis: From my research, I have been developing theories to test.
  4. Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment: I begin testing my theories using surveys, observations, and case studies.
  5. Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion: I then pool my data and draw conclusions. This is the final step for me this semester, resulting in a finished book and presentation.
  6. Communicate Your Results: Loosely interpreted, this would mean creating furniture prototypes based on my conclusions.

By relating my process to the scientific method, I have been able to list five research methods for my project:
  • Literature Search:
    • As stated above, this step constitutes much of my research. Many studies have been done on how cuteness affects people, and in order to develop my later research methods in a way that will be useful, I have to devote a lot of time not only gathering and reading as much information as I can, but also connecting information across sources and topics.
    • My sources range from internet and magazine articles to books and scientific studies. Topics are equally diverse: psychology, sociology, evolution and Darwinism, popular culture, product design, biology, aesthetics, art and graphics, consumerism, and cultural studies.
    • As I am not using the interview process for my project, it is absolutely necessary that I fully explore all written sources to gain opinions of experts in each field.
    • From my research, I can develop a list of cute cues

  • Survey:
    • This is a type of quantitative method. Through interviewing a large number of people, I can extract information about the typical consumer. From my results, I can create graphs, charts, and statistics that will communicate my findings.
    • My list of cute cues is refined in this stage, omitting and adding new ones according to mass opinion.

  • Observation:
    • This is a type of qualitative method, focusing on cultural studies. Specifically, I will be gathering information on people’s reactions to a staged object. The results of this study will give me an idea of the type of reactions I hope to invoke in the prototyping stage.

  • Case Studies:
    • This is where I will utilize all my theories gleaned from my literature search and surveys.
    • Essentially, I will study each subject, attaching to it appropriate cute cues. If I am studying a consumer product, statistics in sales and popularity will help to support my findings.

  • Prototyping/Mock-Up
    • When all my research has been gathered, I can begin to interpret my findings and translate them into furniture products.

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