The Repertory Grid Technique

Understanding cognition has always been important in marketing research and techniques that allow a better understanding of how consumer behavior are a recurrent theme for researchers. The purpose of this paper is to describe a technique known as Repertory Grid Technique (RGT) to enhance our understanding of how consumers' make sense in their online shopping behavior. RGT has been widely used in various research contexts to collect data by mapping the picture in people's mind by identifying how they understand and construe the world (Beail 1985, Tan & Hunter, 2002; Wright, 2004, Cron et al 2014), however little focused research in marketing context has addressed this issue. RGT methodology sources from Personal Construct Theory (PST) developed by Kelly (1955) who described it as ' a notion about how man may launch out from a position of admitted ignorance, and how he may aspire from one day to the next to transcend his own dogmatisms. It is, then, a theory of man's personal inquiry'a psychology of human quest. It does not say what has been or will be found, but proposes rather how we might go about looking for it ' (p.78).

Personal Construct Theory means that everyone is an expert and that people could understand the essence of things facing in life. Kelly (1955) argues that individuals' attempt to comprehend and interpret the events that happen around them in use of their own personal constructs; meanwhile, their experiences temper these constructs. People use their personal construct system to understand the present situation and to predict future events such as product purchaser services consumption. Varying degrees of personal construct systems can be shared among individuals, and at least are bipolar in nature (Kelly 1988, Tan and Hunter 2002, Lemke et al 2011). For example, with purchase experience, the buyers may describe some online sellers who are trustworthy and some are unreliable, or some merchants sell quality goods and some others sell fake products. 'Trustworthy'Unreliable' and 'Quality Goods'Fake Products' are the bipolar constructs used to distinguish different online sellers by consumers (Tan and Hunter 2002, Lemke et al 2011). Through seizing the actual thoughts (personal constructs) in people's mind, we can achieve how they make sense of the world (Kelly 1988). In this study, we use PST and its methodological extension RGT to study consumers cognition with an aim to identify what influences online consumers' behavior, then why increasingly consumers choose online channels.

The Repertory Grid Technique is a generic term for a series of simple scale rating procedures which are applied for getting straightforward descriptions of how an individual perceives the world, or some smaller part of it, in his or her own terms (Jankowicz 2005, Cron et al 2014). RGT proves to be reliable in construing the interviewee's mind in the clinical psychological experiment (Kelly, 1955). In other words, a repertory grid, essentially, is a cognitive mapping tool applied to elicit and analyze each person's mental models by semi-structured interview (see Wright, 2004, Lemke et al 2011,Cron et al 2014 ). An empty grid is used to record and store the detail of interview conversation. Since our purpose is to acquire the online purchase experiences of consumers, these data (e.g. experience) can be stored in different grids, and these can be very creative with abundant content (Jankowicz, 2005). The determinant factor of the output is dependent on the input and thus 'the repertory grid is a two-way classification of data in which events for investigation are integrated with the individual's views of the world (which are based on experience)' (Wright 2004, p.344).
Our main questions in this paper are deduced from the growth of eCommerce shopping activity in China. This propose to study the phenomenon of what influences eCommerce activity and why some online sellers are more successful.
A small sample size was used since earlier work has considered this to be adequate when using the RGT. A review of earlier relevant researchers' contributions conducted by Tan and Hunter (2002) suggested that 'a sample size of 15-25 within a population would frequently generate sufficient constructs to approximate 'universe of meaning' regarding to a given domains of discourse' (p.50). This means that no new constructs can be elicited with increasing sample size. Furthermore, with the constructs elicited by a small sample of RGT can develop items for further investigation and validation by using for example, questionnaire on a larger sample. We randomly choose the interviewees who are familiar with online purchase and have bought goods in the internet at least 5 times in last one to two month. They also had experience of buying with the same seller, which we used as elements in the interview to identify constructs. We ask the participants to present their experiences and ideas about the sellers who interact with them when they purchase online..
We use several methods including descriptive analysis, cluster analysis and principal analysis to analyze single grid data. The analysis approaches assist researchers to inspect the relationships of different elements and constructs as well as between elements and constructs in individual grids. We use content analysis to acquire the relationships among individuals in more than one grid using Bootstrapping Techniques.

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