Say what you mean, mean what you say-An ethnographic approach to male and female conversations

  • Middlesex University Business School
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The fact that people use language in quite different ways and to mean different things has been discussed over the past 500 years or more, across several disciplines, including philosophy, psychology, sociology and linguistics. More recently it has been suggested that there are clear differences in the way men and women use language: the same words can have quite distinct meanings according to the gender of the speaker and the listener. If so, this could have serious implications for market research: we know what people say, but what exactly do they mean? Our exploratory study used ethnographic techniques to examine the different ways in which men and women conversed, and the conversational strategies they employed. We suggest that there are clear differences, although we find that age and social class may also have a bearing on how we use language socially.

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... In contrast, Tannen (1990Tannen ( , 1996) understands that men and women belong to two subcultures, and that their linguistic behavior shows some idiosyncratic characteristics (e.g., males' tendency to report vs. females' tendency to rapport), which does not mean that one must prevail over the other. This is the main tenet of the difference approach (Baron & Kotthoff, 2001; Cameron, 2007; Crawford, 1995; Croft, Boddy & Pentucci, 2007; Fox, Bukatko, Hallahan, & Crawford, 2007; Holmes, 2009; Jinyu, 2014; Murphy, 2010). Instead of talking about male and female language, Maltz and Borker (1982) make reference to two communicative styles: the cooperative and competitive. ...
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Linguistic modality is the expression of the speaker’s subjectivity including possibility, probability, necessity, obligation, permission, prohibition, and desire. This paper analyses a learner English corpus collected at two Spanish universities, paying special attention to which linguistic devices (e.g., modal verbs, adjectives, adverbs or nouns) English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students make use of when providing for and against arguments in their assignments. Applying a corpus-based methodology not only enabled comparisons to be made with other native and non-native data but also facilitated both quantitative and qualitative analyses. The findings show remarkable similarities and differences, and leave several issues at stake: the relationship between the degree of assertiveness of a text and (1) the student’s gender, (2) their command of the Foreign Language (FL), and (3) their familiarity with the genre they are expected to write in.
... Most attempts at understanding precisely what people communicate by WOM rely heavily on a posterior analysis of what has already been said (Patti and Chen, 2009; Wangenheim and Bayon, 2004). This could include analysis of online blogs and chat rooms, surveys with prior students, and evaluation of other records of interpersonal communications (Croft, Boddy and Pentucci, 2007; Patti and Chen, 2009). While such research is useful for understanding how consumers have behaved in the past, it is not necessarily useful in understanding WOM behaviour in the future. ...
Purpose Potential students often learn about University offerings through peer communication, in particular, peer Word of Mouth (WOM). Without an ability to predict and influence such WOM, Higher Education managers cannot accommodate it in their marketing strategies. Using a two phase procedure we address this by proposing a method that can be used to predict what will be communicated by WOM. Using that method we then develop an understanding of what information is communicated by WOM. Method A qualitative phase identifies that potential students use two decision processes when selecting information to communicate about a university. A second choice-experiment phase models the information communicated by WOM as a consequence of one of those decision processes. Findings Results demonstrate that multiple decision processes are used by students when determining what to communicate by WOM, and that specific student groups communicate different information when assisting a peer to choose a university to attend. Practical implications The results highlight the ability of institutions to influence student WOM, and the procedure developed provides a practical tool for predicting WOM so that custom marketing messages can be developed to assist student choices of HE provider.
Understanding the nature and extent of consumer networks in social media has been complicated by both their rapid adoption and their tendency to adapt and mutate as they have been deployed. Originally described as Web 2.0 technologies, social media appear to have shifted the locus of communicative power from brand owners, governments, and large media companies in favour of their audiences. Much has been claimed for social media marketing, but empirical studies are only recently starting to appear in leading journals, and in most cases concentrate on the role of brands, products, and services. This article presents the findings of a six-year virtual ethnography, one focused on the consumer, a study with the aim of gaining a preliminary understanding of this evolving phenomenon. It finds that social media contain sets of complex interpersonal relationships in both concentric networks and in ad hoc groupings. These networks function through multifaceted reciprocal displays in which products, services, and brands may have a role, but are more likely to be peripheral to other aspects of relationship building.
Less than 15% of ads are directed specifically to women and less than 5% are intended just for men. The remaining 80% are apparently targeted to everyone. This presumes very little difference in overall response between genders, which is strange, given that fundamental gender differences do exist. For example, women typically respond more positively to ads than men. Why should this be so? Is it intrinsic, is it cultural, or are there types of ads that work better with women than men, and vice versa? What leads to such differences? This paper reviews gender differences stemming from in-utero hormonal flows that shape the embryonic brain. How do such differences affect overall gender response to advertising? The findings show that advertising directed to just men or just women k more effective - yet paradoxically, it is seldom utilised, as most advertising appears to be targeted to both genders. In addition, although there is a wide range of effective styles of advertising and of content types that are demonstrably effective, many are comparatively neglected. Thus, there are opportunities for much more creativity and variety in the way advertising messages are communicated. The paper seeks to provide some dear pointers on how to go about this. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR] Copyright of International Journal of Market Research is the property of Warc LTD and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)
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Marketing practitioners and theorists routinely cite the power of the personal referral on customer behaviour. However, relatively few companies have tried to harness the power of word of mouth (WOM). Scholars have been pondering WOM over 2400 years, although modern marketing research into WOM started only relatively recently, in the post-war 1940s. WOM can be characterized by valence, focus, timing, solicitation and degree of management intervention. Most recent WOM research has been conducted from a customer-to-customer perspective, even though WOM is found in other contexts such as influence, employee and recruitment markets. Marketing research into WOM has attempted to answer two questions. What are the antecedents of WOM? What are the consequences of WOM? This paper integrates that research into a contingency model and attempts to identify researchable gaps in our knowledge.
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Projective techniques are often used in market research to help uncover findings in areas where those researched are thought to be reluctant or unable to expose their thoughts and feelings via more straightforward questioning techniques. However, how the findings from projective techniques are analysed and how valid and reliable they are is hardly touched on at all in the market research literature. This paper aims to open this subject up for further discussion and recommends further research into the reliability and validity of projective techniques. Question: So how do you actually analyse projective techniques? Researcher says: Years of experience in using them and my training as a qualitative researcher has left me with an intuitive knowledge of what people mean when they perform a task in a certain way. (Researcher thinks: I'm tired out after the last group, please ask me an easier question!)
When a buyer perceives risk in a purchase he can pursue different strategies of risk resolution. This article presents research findings which indicate that consumers have preferences for different methods of risk reduction associated with various types of loss.
This book by renowned linguist Deborah Tannen provides a powerful yet disturbing commentary on the growing polarization of America. Fortunately, it also provides some useful understanding and insights that OD professionals can turn into changes both personally and professionally to counteract the observed trends. It is well-written and worth the time, though it is not light reading. Expect to read it in multiple sittings. Over the last 20 years I have lamented an apparent escalation of confrontation and decreasing sense of "community" and interdependence in multiple arenas of modern day life. Evidence of this escalation has come in many forms. I have watched with dismay the increasing use of lawsuits to resolve that which in an earlier era would have been resolved with apologies, compromises or accommodation. Every decade's "entertainment" seems to require increasingly violent fights to satiate audiences. It seems to me that we are sold out more than ever before to the "winning is everything" attitude in political or legal arenas. Even in athletics it seems there is more violent confrontation at younger ages than ever before. Regarding professional sports, I remember seeing in the early 1970s a quote from the famous Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi, who supposedly said, "Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing!" First I was appalled at the poor sportsmanship that displayed. Then, after it was quoted to me repeatedly as motivation in different venues, I became calloused to it. Sadly, I have to admit that I even began to accept it as a valid perspective during my "gung-ho," aggressive, advancement-focused years. As OD professionals it would be good for us to step back and consider how our own important values may have been co-opted by decades of polarizing polemics.
The oral tradition has long been studied by social psychologists and cultural anthropologists for the insights it can provide: folklore both mirrors and shapes the anxieties, fears, hopes and understandings of societies and of groups within it. This paper uses traditional and contemporary legend in an attempt to gain some understanding of the consumption experiences and decision-making processes of families. It finds that the modern oral tradition overwhelmingly reflects the worries that parents feel for the safety of their children: fear of abduction, of poisoning, of violence and other forms of victimisation; these parental concerns are highlighted also in many of the more conventional studies used to help ground the theory in this paper. These anxieties in turn shape family consumption decisions in the areas of housing, leisure, food and transport. But although understanding the conditions of late modernity can be useful in explaining the socially constructed realities which families share, the evidence of traditional folklore, dating back before the 19th century, suggests that these worries may yet have a deeper basis.
When a buyer perceives risk in a purchase he can pursue different strategies of risk resolution. This article presents research findings which indicate that consumers have preferences for different methods of risk reduction associated with various types of loss.
This article investigates the processes of word of mouth (WOM) within a services purchase decision context. The authors argue that to understand these processes, researchers must examine the role of interpersonal influences in the traditional WOM models based within the noninterpersonal paradigm. As a result of the current investigation, three distinct relations emerge: first, the effect of the noninterpersonal forces (receiver’s expertise, receiver’s perceived risk, and sender’s expertise) on the influence of WOM on service purchase decisions; second, the effect of the interpersonal forces (ties strength and how actively WOM is sought) on the influence of WOM on service purchase decisions; and third, the effects of noninterpersonal forces on interpersonal forces. Managerial implications and avenues for future research are addressed.
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