Re: Words .v. Pictures for elicitation-initial findings....

Bob Parks (
Wed, 16 Dec 1998 12:22:24 -0500

I think you've got hold of a crucial aspect of concept formation - the
dialectic of abstract and concrete. Concept formation may appear to be a
process of abstraction from concrete instances if you're an Aristotelian.
It may appear to be a process of distancing oneself from the concrete if
you're a Platonist. But perhaps both types of processes are occuring in
concept formation and change. This would be the position of someone
interested in historical dialectic - a Marxist or a cultural materialist,
for example. I would like to encourage you to continue to study this
dimension with other topics.
Bob Parks

>Dear All
>Some moons ago many of you kindly replied to my request for information on
>the difference between using words or pictures of building materials - a
>belated thank you very much for your help!
>I just wanted to share what I've found out so far to repay your generosity.
>I have now carrried out a pilot study using 7 words and 7 pictures of the
>type of building materials: stone, straw, earth, wood, metal , concrete and
>plastic with some v.interesting results:
>1. Both gave no problems with construct elicitation.
>2. People struggled with the pictures -often referring to the
>context or building rather than the material itself. In fact they were often
>unsure what the material was. The words alllowed them to form their own
>ideas of the material.
>3. I got 100% more "touchy-feely" responses by using pictures
>than words.
>On balance, I think I am going to run with using words because they seem less
>"loaded" than pictures for construct elicitation. It was fascinating to ask
>what was in people's minds afterwards when thinking about the material.
>Plastic= 1960's chairs!!!
>STone= dry stone walls
>Miles away from the building images I'd put up and much more revealing.
>I'd be keen to hear from anyone who wants to chip in on the "words .v.
>pictures" issue as it is developing for me...
>Best wishes
>Fionn Stevenson
>Fionn Stevenson
>Ecological Design Group (EDG)
>The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture
>The Robert Gordon University
>Garthdee Road
>Aberdeen AB10 7QB
>Tel: ++ 44 (0) 1224 263713
>Fax: ++ 44 (0) 1224 263535
>e-mail <>