Penetrating Adolescents' Mental Models of Mp3 with ZMET

By Ling, I-Ling; Yang, Chun-Ming et al. | Adolescence, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

Penetrating Adolescents' Mental Models of Mp3 with ZMET

Ling, I-Ling, Yang, Chun-Ming, Liu, Yi-Fen, Tsai, Yu-Hsuan, Adolescence

Knowing what adolescents' want is fundamental for a successful business. Many techniques have been used by companies to understand consumers' thoughts. However, what they think is always hard to measure. For example, many teenagers like to buy silver cell phones. When researchers ask why they choose this kind of phone, they do not know the reason. It is the subconscious that influences their decision. Silver may represent fashion or pride to the teenagers. Since the subconscious often cannot be elicited from verbal communication, it has become a challenge for researchers. There are many shortcomings in the existing techniques. Qualitative technique is limited by the type of communication. The most qualitative technique uses verbal communication, but Burgoon, Buller, and Woodall (1989) stated that more than 80% of all human communication is nonverbal using picture, color, and music.

A wide variety of market research methods can be used for investigating product innovation. These methods can be divided into four categories for (1) understanding customers, (2) idea generation, (3) concept testing, and (4) estimating market size, growth, and composition. The first two categories tend to be more qualitative and require divergent thinking. The second two methods are more evaluative. However, many combinations and variations of methods are possible.

One of the methods for understanding customers is a newly patented research tool, the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique known as ZMET.

Zaltman and Zaltman (2008) point out that managers need deep insights from customers in order to have deep insights about customers. Deep insights are based on the fundamental or core beliefs customers have about a topic such as an activity (snacking), a problem (cleaning floors), or a product (computer software), and the role it plays in their lives. These beliefs operate in largely unconscious ways to structure, guide, and motivate consumers' conscious interpretations and choices. To gain access to these core meanings, we need innovative research methodoligies that can help customers delve into their unconscious thoughts and emotions and bring them to the surface. The principle of the ZMET is to tap individuals' underlying emotional connections. First, participants collected pictures that symbolized their thoughts and feelings. Then they had an intense two-hour personal interview with a researcher. With help from a graphic artist, participants created collages of their thoughts and feelings. Finally, they received multimedia presentations. The ZMET is used mostly in TV advertising, but also produces ideas for product design (Zaltman & Coulter, 1995).

The ZMET method, developed to understand consumers' subconscious thoughts, decisions, and behaviors, was chosen for this study because of its unique ability to achieve a deeper understanding of how adolescents are interpreting mp3. The ZMET relies on visual images. However, pictures are not the only communication representation; music may be another. Based on this view, in order to discover individuals' hidden thoughts about the products they use, this article combined music and pictures as the metaphors for broadening the ZMET research scope. The authors sought to address this problem by promoting an approach that provides deep insights into adolescents' beliefs about mp3.

Mental Model

The mental model first proposed by Craik (1943) is a specific, dynamic form of mental representation constructed by outside experiences. Johnson-Laird (1983, 1989) believed that the mental model was an abstract, analog representation. Through this representation, one could infer and forecast an event, and then take appropriate action. Two uses of the mental model exist in past literature. One refers to the representation of a given object (Christensen & Olson, 2002; Zaltman, 1997), and another refers to the cluster of interconnected neurons that are fundamental to cognitive processing (Zaltman, 1997). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Penetrating Adolescents' Mental Models of Mp3 with ZMET


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.