Sentence Completion: This technique is quite similar to word association. Respondents are presented with a number of incomplete sentences and asked to complete them. As with the word association test, respondents are asked to complete the sentence with the first thought that comes to mind. To ensure that this is done, respondents are timed. Sentences completion tests may provide more information about the subject’s feeling than word association; but they are not as disguised and many respondents are able to diagnose the investigator’s purpose.
Sentence completion can be used in a number of different ways in marketing research. Some examples taken from a magazine study are:
A man who reads Time magazine is ….
A man who receives a gift certificate good for Newsweek magazine would be ….
Business Week magazine appeals to …
Fortune magazine is most liked by. …
Sentence completion questions can be worded in either the first or third person. No evidence exists to indicate one approach is better than the other.
Story Completion: This technique provides respondents with part of a story – enough to center attention upon particular issue, but not enough to indicate the ending Respondents are then asked to give the conclusion in their own words.
Example: Mr Brown, who lived with his family in an upper middle class suburb, received a telephone call from a lawn care services seeking his business. The caller said she was with a firm whose name was recognized by Brown. She guaranteed that, if he had the service for one summer, he would have a weed free thicker, better looking lawn. The firm would provide this by spraying Brown’s lawn with fertilizers and weed killer four times during a six month period at a total cost of $125.
What was Mr Brown’s reaction?
The story completion technique is quite versatile and has numerous applications to marketing problems, the most important of which is probably to provide the seller with data on the images and feelings people have about a particular product. Obviously such findings are highly useful in determining advertising and promotional themes as well as desirable product characteristics.
Pictorial Techniques: The pictorial techniques are similar to storytelling except that pictures are used as the stimuli. The two main pictorial techniques are (1) Thematic Apperception Tests, and (2) cartoons.
Thematic Apperception Tests:
Thematic Apperception tests, commonly referred to as TAT, have long been used by clinical psychologists. They consist of ambiguous pictures about which the respondent is asked to tell a story. The researcher may ask a number of questions to stimulate thinking; What’s happening in the picture? Which one is the aggressor? What will happen next? It is assumed that the response tells something about the respondents. Each subject in the picture is a medium though which the respondents can project feelings. The ideas, emotions, and attitudes that the respondent attributes to the characters in the picture reveal something of his or her own ideas, emotions and attitudes.
Cartoon tests are a version or modification of the TAT, but they are simpler to administer and analyze. Cartoon characters are shown in a specific situation pertinent to the problems. One or more of the balloons indicating the conversation of the characters is left open and the respondents is asked to fill it in. In comparing the cartoon techniques with the direct question in a study of the loyalty of buyers to industrial suppliers, one researcher concluded that the indirect approach provided a better insight and measure of resistance to change than did the direct method. This researcher used a cartoon showing a conference in progress.
After the respondent had looked at the picture, the interviewers asked: In this case, with which man would you be in most agreement? Why is that?
In preparing cartoon tests, the researcher must be careful to use situations into which respondents can project themselves easily. That is, the picture must present a situation familiar to the respondent – one with the respondents can identify.