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Real-Time Response Measurement in the Social Sciences

Methodological Perspectives and Applications

Jürgen Maier, Michaela Maier, Marcus Maurer and Carsten Reinemann

Do people like a movie? Are consumers attracted by a broadcast commercial? How do voters evaluate the performance of political candidates in a televised debate? Traditional study designs measure the effects of those media stimuli after a recipient has been exposed to the entire movie, commercial, or debate. This approach has its limitations. Although we can learn if people like a particular stimulus as a whole we cannot tell which elements of the stimulus are responsible for the overall judgment. Real-time response (RTR) measurement provides this information. By recording individual spontaneous reactions to media messages on a second-by-second basis this technique offers unique insights into human information processing.