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Unformatted text preview: PREFERENCE TYPES AMONG VIEWERS OF TOOTHPASTE COMMERCIALS Dwight A. Williams, University of Missouri at Saint Louis [The author is grateful to Robert R. Monaghan for advice in the design and execution of this study, and to the Ohio State University for use of its computer facilities.] [Dwight Williams is Assistant Professor of Speech at the University of Missouri in Saint Louis.] This study takes an in-depth look at preference types among viewers of televised toothpaste commercials. Four construct elements of style and content (Reality, Moral Conflict, Complexity, and Seriousness) were built into a balanced-block design and used to develop a thirty-six item Q-sort instrument. Each item described a hypothetical TV commercial for a hypothetical brand of toothpaste. Thirty-five people, representing several variables, sorted the items along a modified normal-curve distribution, according to personal preference. A 35 x 35 person-to-person correlation matrix was factor-analyzed. Two strong factors (or preference types) resulted, including: I, "The Entertainment Seeker"; and II, "The Information Seeker. ". A number of research techniques have been developed which are suitable for studying individual consumer decision-making on an in-depth basis. Generally, however, those techniques which tell us the most about individual decision-making are limited in their ability to provide us with comparative data about whole classes of consumers. Similarly, the techniques which tell us the most about consumers as groups are limited in the depth of information they can provide. Combining several of these techniques, however, can go a long way toward reaching the ideal of providing in-depth information about whole classes of consumers. This study illustrates one such combination of in-depth research techniques. The findings reported here were part of a larger study which undertook to compare people's preferences across several media, including television programs, radio programs, movies, magazine articles, and political messages as well as consumer brand commercials (Williams, 1971a, 1971b). Regarding commercials, the study sought to answer specifically (1) what constructs do viewers use in deciding their preferences among commercial messages, and (2) what preference types can be found among viewers of commercial messages? DESIGN The design used in this study of viewer preferences among commercials is an adaptation of a design which has been developed in recent years to study viewer preferences among television programs. The basic design and its rationale were originally developed by Robert Monaghan(1968a). Several studies by Monaghan and his colleagues illustrate the approach(Harries, 1966; Monaghan, Plummer, Rarick, & Williams, 1974; Monaghan & Titchener, 1969; Plummer, 1968; Rarick, 1967). The objective of these studies is to help the creator of media messages see the world through the viewer's own eyes. Typically, the studies combine such techniques as the focused interview, the repertory grid, and Q-methodology. the studies combine such techniques as the focused interview, the repertory grid, and Q-methodology....
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