Narrative text biases attending the critical incidents technique

Alvin C. Burns (Alvin C. Burns is Chairman and Professor of the Department of Marketing, E.J. Ourso College of Business, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA.)
Laura A. Williams (Laura A. Williams is Assistant Professor of Marketing in the Department of Management and Marketing, Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, Louisiana, USA.)
James “Trey” Maxham, III (James “Trey” Maxham, III is Assistant Professor of Commerce at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.)

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Publication date: 1 December 2000


The critical incident technique (CIT) wherein informants describe their experiences and feelings attendant to a specific occasion is an attractive qualitative technique because it is easy to administer in a group setting, computer textual analysis is readily available, and it provides insight into marketplace phenomena. However, self‐disclosure theory predicts and studies have found that the informant’s gender, the target of the disclosure, and similarity between informant and target affect the quality of the informant’s narrative text. Using hypotheses from this knowledge base and adding the consumer construct of involvement, the authors conduct an experiment using CIT. Three hypotheses are supported: females disclose more than males, more is disclosed to friends than to strangers, and a high involvement topic produces more disclosure than does a low involvement one. Qualitative marketing researchers are warned that subtle biases exist in narrative text generated by the use of CIT, and precautions are suggested.



Burns, A., Williams, L. and “Trey” Maxham, J. (2000), "Narrative text biases attending the critical incidents technique", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 3 No. 4, pp. 178-186.

Download as .RIS




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.