Toward a Better Use of the Semantic Differential in IS Research: An Integrative Framework of Suggested Action

Tibert Verhagen, Bart van den Hooff, Selmar Meents

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
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The semantic differential is a widely applied measurement technique in the information systems field. As we
demonstrate in this study, however, there is evidence that many of the applications of the semantic differential
seem to be subject to common shortcomings. In this study, we address these shortcomings by creating
awareness of the requirements underlying semantic differentiation. We discuss the requirements of semantic
differentiation and use them as a foundation to introduce a framework to assist researchers in applying the
semantic differential more adequately. The framework puts renewed emphasis on bipolar scale selection and
dimensionality testing, introduces semantic bipolarity as new criterion, and proposes distinct stages for the
testing of wording and contextual contamination. We exemplify the framework using an illustration exercise,
which centers on the assessment of the meaning of the concept “electronic marketplace quality”. Using a
mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods, the illustration exercise clarifies the prerequisites for semantic differentiation and provides suggestions for researchers. The paper concludes with a discussion of several methodological implications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-143
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015

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