Sentence Completion for Evaluating Symbolic Meaning
Sari Kujala, Piia Nurkka


Symbolic meaning refers to the image and associations that spring to mind in regard to a product. Products can act as symbols for humans, providing personal meaning and communicating the owner’s personal characteristics to others. The meanings that we attach to products play an essential role in how we feel about them and evaluate them. In this paper, we investigate how symbolic meaning could be evaluated. Symbolic meaning is challenging to design since it is hard to anticipate other people’s reactions and the designer and users might attach different meanings to a product. Symbolic meaning is also challenging to evaluate because of the intangible nature of the phenomenon. Practical methods are needed to evaluate designs and gather feedback on how users interpret symbolic meanings. We used a sentence completion technique to identify the symbolic meanings that users attach to a product. Using two case studies, we describe early trials of the technique. The results show that sentence completion can help designers to understand how users see their products and how symbolic meanings can be refined.

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