Quantitative Research Critique

Quantitative Research Critique

PSY 326 Research Design

Quantitative Research Critique


The purpose of this paper is to analyze and evaluate the research presented and to discuss the strengths and limitations that might be present in the research study. I will explore the research methods used and discuss the results of the research. Furthermore, I will also determine what research design the researchers used in order to carry out the research, as well as, evaluating whether or not the methods applied were appropriate for the research design. Follow-up research recommendations will be present also, along with ethical issues and concerns that may be present. For this paper, I will be evaluating a research study titled “I don’t” versus “I can’t”: When empowered refusal motivates goal-directed behavior.  The authors of this research study are Patrick, V. M., & Hagtvedt, H. (2012).

The question that the researchers are trying to answer is whether or not the words that we use specifically “I don’t” or “I can’t” have the ability to change an individual’s goal-directed behaviors. Specifically, how motivating or unmotivating theses phrases can be to an individual and how these phrases “I don’t or “I can’t” are relevant to goal achievement.

The hypothesis that is being tested in this research study is that “framing a refusal using “I don’t” is more psychologically empowering than using “I can’t” and can motivate goal pursuit” (Patrick, V. M., & Hagtvedt, H., 2012, pg.372). Consequently, the researchers aim is to find out if individuals are more likely to achieve their goals using the phrase “I don’t” when making refusals rather than when using the phrase “I can’t”.

Previous research studies have investigated elements that either positively or negatively influence an individual’s desire to achieve their goals, as well as many strategies for goal achievement. This research has led researchers to believe that many individuals do not possess the motivation needed in order to attain these self-set goals, therefore, changing the way an individual words their refusals may significantly increase chances of goal achievement. In addition, there does not appear to be any apparent bias regarding the previous research selected and discussed in the literature review

Summary of Methods

This quantitative research study is a non- experimental study. One of the reasons that I feel this study is non-experimental is because in the first two studies (2A and 2B) the participants are sorted into two groups, one group that is instructed to use the phrase “I don’t and another group that is instructed to use the phrase “I can’t”, however, the researchers do not have any control over variables and are strictly depending on the thoughts and feelings of the participants in order to conclude their findings. Also, in the third study (study 3) the researcher’s ad a third control group. In this group, participants were instructed to just refuse or “just say no” when temptations arose which is also measuring relationship to these two phrases. Another aspect of this study that leads me to believe that it is non-experimental is that the researchers are looking to determine a relationship between the two phrases “I don’t vs. “I can’t”, does the use of the phrase “I don’t” have a correlation between an individual’s chances of becoming more successful in achieving their goals than using the phrase I can’t. This study was a correlational study because it’s aim was to determine the correlation or relationship between goal achievement and refusal framing using the phrases “I don’t vs “I can’t”.

I think that for this study the researchers used two methods of sampling for study 2A and 2B I feel that simple random sampling was used, in order to avoid self-selection and professional survey takers. Participants were selected via invitation only. For study 3 I believe that convenience sampling was used because for this study the researchers advertised for a health and wellness seminar and used those individuals who signed up to participate.

For this study, the researchers used a 9 point questionnaire in order to collect the data on several measures associated with different aspects of the study, as well as, daily online diary entries that reported how the participants felt in regards to their progress using their assigned phrase “I don’t or “I can’t”.

The instruments that the researchers used for data collection were validated in determining the results of the research. The statistical procedures used to analyze data included; the ANOVA with refusal framing, the two-way ANOVA with refusal framing, the Chi-square analysis, binary logistics regression, Mediation analysis, and a Contrast analysis. In an effort to ensure validity and reliability in this study researchers used sampling methods in order to avoid selecting participants that were professional survey takers. This allowed for a more representative sample.

Summary of Results

It was found that those who used the phrase “I don’t” were more likely to achieve their goals than those who used the phrase “I can’t”. In all three studies, statistical significance was found, determining that the use of “I don’t” is more effective than the use of “I can’t” in refusal framing. The research results did show practical significance in determining that the strategy of using the phrase “I don’t” would be an effective everyday real-world goal achievement strategy. However, in some instances, the “I can’t” strategy showed more effective in practical situations that involve external factors

The conclusion drawn by the researchers did fall in line with the statistical results of the research. According to the researchers a conclusion was drawn that more individuals successfully achieve their goals when using the phrase “I don’t” versus the phrase “I can’t”. In examining the statistical analysis of data it is clear that individuals do achieve their goals more when using the phrase “I don’t”, and thus a logical conclusion is drawn from the statistical results.

Ethical Aspects

The researchers did not address any ethical issues in this article and did not inform participants that their confidentiality and or wellbeing would be protected. There was also no mention of the researchers undergoing an approval process by an Institutional Review Board or other ethics committee. As far as I could see there was nothing ethically questionable in regards to the practices that were carried out in the research involving participants or procedures,

Evaluation of Study

Some of the strengths associated with this study include the fact that the researchers used the same data collection measures for all three studies, as well as similar forms of data analysis making it easy to gain a general understanding of the information. Another strength of this research study is that the researchers do a good job of carrying out the components of non-experimental research.

In this study, the researchers mention a few limitations. One of the limitations is the fact that the phrase “I don’t” seems to be more effective that the phrase “I can’t” only in the internal context. Another limitation deals with needing to understand why the phrase “I don’t” leads to more goal achievement, and finally, understanding how word framing might cause an individual to view goal achievement as more significant (Patrick, V. M., & Hagtvedt, H., 2012, pg.379). I did not see any other limitations in this study other than those mentioned by the researchers.

The authors suggested that future research could investigate the use of verbal framing such as the “I don’t” and “I can’t” phrases and how they affect and influence others and how these phrases might be contagious and adopted by others who feel empowered by seeing there effects in the lives of others.

I think that the non-experimental research design and methods used were a good choice for this research study. In choosing this design and methods the researchers were able to generate a general understanding of the relationship between word framing and how it can assist an individual in being successful in goal achievement. However, a mixed experimental design would have worked well in this study as well. In using a Mixed experimental design the participants would have been exposed to both techniques ( Newman, 2016, section 5.4) of the refusal framing phrases “I don’t” (I can’t”) this would have allowed the researchers to understand what causes individuals to feel more empowered and in control of their goal achievement as it pertained to word framing and the use of phrases such as “I don’t” versus “I can’t”. It would also aid the researchers in “heightening their understanding through methodological triangulation” (Turner, Cardinal, & Burton, 2017, p. 244), and gaining a more causal comprehension of how refusal framing effects and motivate behavior.


While the researchers in this study were able to conclude that using the phrase “I don’t” in a more effective refusal framing method for goal achievement than the phrase “I can’t” they were not able to understand why this type of word framing causes individuals to become more motivated to accomplish their goals. However, the researchers were able to understand word framing and how both of these different phrases “I don’t (“I can’t”) can be used in positive ways towards goal achievement. For example, the phrase “I don’t” works well for those individuals who are looking to achieve goals related to internal factors, and the phrase “I can’t” is more effective for individuals who are looking to achieve goals related to external factors. The design of the research study was well put together and easy to follow. For a follow-up study, I would recommend a research question like; “Why do individuals experience more goal accomplishment when using the phrase “I don’t” versus the phrase “I can’t”?. This would help the researchers to determine the different aspects or key factors of motivation associated with refusal framing. The methods that I would recommend for a follow-up study would be a mixed experimental design. This would allow the researchers to be able to better understand cause and how refusal framing drives goal achievement.


Newman, M. (2016). Research methods in psychology. (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education.

Patrick, V. M., & Hagtvedt, H. (2012). “I don’t” versus “I can’t”: When empowered refusal motivates goal-directed behavior. Journal of Consumer Research, 39(2), 371-381. doi:10.1086/663212

Turner, S. F., Cardinal, L. B., & Burton, R. M. (2017). Research design for mixed methods: A triangulation-based framework and roadmap [Journal]. Organizational Research Methods, 20(2), 243-267. https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org.proxy-library.ashford.edu/10.1177/1094428115610808

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