Cognitive segmentation: Modeling the structure and content of customers' thoughts

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Journal Article
Psychology and Marketing, 2009, 26 (6), pp. 479 - 506
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This paper proposes a cognitive segmentation technique that models both customers' cognitive content and structure. Cognitive segmentation provides a quantitative operationalization of idiographic cognitions that can be compared and integrated across customers to move beyond the in-depth understanding and wide generalizing trade-off. In addition, cognitive segmentation utilizes participants' own semantics for eliciting and aggregating cognitions. This method allows researchers to understand content in light of structure, as participants' elicited cognitive contents are further interpreted as a function of the complexity of their cognitive structures. The conceptual foundations from personal construct theory as well as a description of the nine-step implementation process whereby participants fill out a modified version of Kelly's Repertory Grid and complete Borman's trait implication procedure are provided. An application illustrates how cognitive segmentation can identify and assess the size potential of each customer target as a function of their cognitive content and structure. A discussion of the results and directions for further research are also provided. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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