Sample Selection for Method Comparisons
Rousseau, R. and Ennis, D. M. (2022). IFPress, 25(4) 3-4.
“Research on research” is a phrase often heard in consumer product companies with the most enlightened research programs. This research pays dividends when a company later studies the performance of their food, beverage, or personal care products. In methodological investigations where modified products are used, the choice of stimuli is of importance. For instance, with the introduction of the tetrad method, many companies are conducting internal research to answer the question of whether the tetrad is a suitable alternative to the triangle or duo-trio test when considering their own panel and product category. There is also an interest in comparing the sensitivities of panels with different levels of training, or in studying the performance of an internal panel with that of a representative group of consumers.
When conducting methods research, the stimuli play an essential role since the outcome of the research will depend on how well controlled the experimental variables are so that the conclusions can have clear and interpretable relevance in practice. A lack of careful selection can result in stimuli that are too similar or too different and defeat the purpose of the research. In this technical report, we describe how Torgerson’s method of triads can be a valuable tool to ensure the appropriate choice of test samples for methods research.