Your assignment is to prepare and submit a paper on eating for pleasure or profit: the effect of incentives on children’s enjoyment of vegetables. The role that this control condition played in the experiment was to provide a baseline for the analysis of child responses when external rewards were presented. The authors were also interested in several factors that contribute to the discrepancy between the tendency for rewards to increase acceptance in field studies on one hand, but the tendency of rewards to decrease liking in laboratory studies. Implicit in the design of their study, the researchers attempted to study the type of reward used, the initial liking, and the intended outcome of the study and whether those factors play a role.
To accomplish these tasks, the researchers used a cluster-randomized experimental design that arranged over 400 children into four conditions: an exposure plus tangible non-food reward, an exposure plus social reward, an exposure alone, and a no-treatment control group. Over 12 days, the children were presented daily with the exposure to a vegetable that children find objectionable in taste. Then, the children from the respective conditions were either given an additional reward or, for those in the control condition, left alone. The results measured from these tests of taste were collected at a one-month and a three-month point after the 12 exposures in order to examine the effects of the exposures on acquisition and maintenance of the taste. This research design was intended to either accept or reject the hypothesis that external rewards have a significant effect on changing children’s tastes for vegetables.
The children in the study fell in between the range of 4 and 6 years old and were randomly assigned to their conditions. To test each of the children individually, the researchers used a vegetable that the child rated in the middle of five other vegetables so that there was the potential of learning to enjoy the taste of that middle vegetable. .