Interest and reaction time analysis of credit card offers: THE FOURTH STEP

MEASUREMENT AND USE OF RESPONSE TIME

Experimental psychologists have long considered response time to be like the blood pressure indications used by a physician: an indication of processes occurring in the mind of the consumer, rather than an intrinsically interesting measure. More than a century ago, experimental psychologists began to look at response time (or reaction time) as a surrogate for internal cognitive processing of information. The longer the response time observed in the study, the more complex the cognitive processing must be. Response time later served as an external measure for a host of internal processing that could not necessarily be measured by other means. Remnants of that are seen today in the measurement of response time for studies of advertisements and shelves done by tachistiscope or ‘T- Scope’.

There is merit in measuring the response time to systematically varied concepts as a second dependent variable. Just as one can deconstruct the ratings assigned to these concepts into part-worth contributions from the different concept elements, so one can deconstruct the response time into the part-worth response times contributed by the different elements. Longer response times mean that it takes the consumer longer to react to the element. The reason for long versus short response times must, however, be sought both in the nature of the stimulus and in the nature of the respondent. To the degree that one can find organising principles underlying response times, one will be able to engineer messages that are both convincing (high impact values of elements), and rapidly understood (short response times).

Preliminary work on response times in experimental design has been reported by the author in a study that involved children and adults. The analysis of response times revealed that children process information differently from adults. The analysis was straightforward and followed the approach used for analysing the impact of elements on interest in toy concepts. A similar approach will be followed here.

 

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