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Cognitive Semiotics: where artistic interpretation meets science

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Behavioural science has made significant inroads into market research in recent years and even though the study of signs and symbols has a lot in common with it, semiotics is perhaps the only MR discipline that is largely untouched by the “behavioural revolution” – until now. The emerging scientific discipline of cognitive semiotics allows us to add an objective, quantifiable dimension to the previously subjective practice. Unlike traditional semiotics, it goes beyond the individual researcher interpreting signs and symbols by drawing on existing behavioural science studies to create hypotheses that are tested with real consumers to see how small changes can make a big difference.

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Cognitive Semiotics: where artistic interpretation meets science

  1. 1. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech Cogni&ve semio&cs Where artistic interpretation meets science Tom Cantle | Senior Research Manager, Irrational Agency #NewMR @irrationaltom @irrationalagcy
  2. 2. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech in this talk… semiotics becomes an objective, quantifiable science. small changes can make a big difference. © The Irrational Agency 2017
  3. 3. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017
  4. 4. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017
  5. 5. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech semiotics the study of sign systems and how meaning is made within a culture grounded in arts and humanities © The Irrational Agency 2017
  6. 6. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech semiotics does not rely on interview material looks at cultural artefacts such as popular media, advertising, packaging and merchandising as a context for analysis of a specific brand or product © The Irrational Agency 2017
  7. 7. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 tulip sign
  8. 8. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 denotation tulip The tulip is a Eurasian and North African genus of perennial, bulbous plants in the lily family. It is a herbaceous herb with showy flowers, of which around 75 wild species are currently accepted.
  9. 9. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 connotation Netherlands (Holland) It’s a small world
  10. 10. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech Brand / labelling Fonts Logo design Physical form & materials Colours Lids – opening style Illustrations Symmetry vs. asymmetry Layout – boxy, flowing, minimalist Pack blurb Metaphor vs literal Brand / labelling Fonts Logo design Physical form & materials Colours Lids – opening style Illustrations Symmetry vs. asymmetry Layout – boxy, flowing, minimalist Pack blurb Metaphor vs literal © The Irrational Agency 2017 in practice
  11. 11. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 in practice
  12. 12. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 subjective unlimited time to rationalise infinite options for interpretation the trouble with semiotics…
  13. 13. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 Egocentric bias We see our own beliefs as more common than they are in reality and remember our choices as better than they actually were because it’s easier to access our own minds than try to compare our choices to those of others. Confirmation bias We ignore evidence that contradicts what we believe and accept evidence that confirms it to avoid rethinking the beliefs we already hold.
  14. 14. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2016 Thinking fast, Thinking slow Semiotics
  15. 15. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 “We can imagine all cultural units as an enormous number of marbles contained in a box; by shaking the box we can form different connections and affinities among the marbles.” (Umberto Eco)
  16. 16. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 science to the rescue!
  17. 17. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 integrates methods and theories developed in cognitive sciences with methods and theories in semiotics conceptual and textual analysis as well as experimental and ethnographic investigations cognitive semiotics
  18. 18. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech Semiotics Behavioural (cognitive) science © The Irrational Agency 2017 Studies signs, symbols, meaning Researcher figures out meaning alone Doesn’t take into account consumers’ experiences Studies nonconscious influences on decision making Empirical (mixed) methods, quantifiable (More) objective, allows for consumer perspective cognitive semiotics
  19. 19. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech cognitive semiotics uncovers the mental architecture of meaning examines the mental shortcuts embedded in visual signs and language reveals associative networks with both qualitative and quantitative methods © The Irrational Agency 2017
  20. 20. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 signs and symbols visual shortcuts (heuristics)
  21. 21. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 associative networks (connotations) get built over long periods of time… …but they are activated in an instant. meaning making and time
  22. 22. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 the amount of information we receive every second from our senses is enormous this leads to filtering and prioritisation visual cues dominate decision making - it’s often the first sense to activate we need cognitive semiotics
  23. 23. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 drawing on experimental methods in cognitive psychology for validation using time-response methods to simulate real-world meaning making giving more robust evidence for e.g. packaging design, advertising, NPD… quantifying semiotics
  24. 24. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017
  25. 25. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 Sharp Sour Citrusy Soft Creamy Smooth Milky Tasty Rich Sweet
  26. 26. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017
  27. 27. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017
  28. 28. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017
  29. 29. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 small things can make a big difference
  30. 30. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 just like other traditional MR methods, semiotics too can be augmented with behavioural science gives us testable hypotheses and methods to test the subconscious meanings in a psychologically realistic way …and ultimately more holistic, robust and usable insights. cognitive semiotics
  31. 31. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 makes the subjective… objective. cognitive semiotics
  32. 32. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech © The Irrational Agency 2017 thank you! More questions? Tweet me @irrationaltom @irrationalagcy tom@irrationalagency.com
  33. 33. Cogni&ve Semio&cs: where ar&s&c interpreta&on meets science Tom Cantle, Irra&onal Agency New but not Tech Q & A Tom Cantle Irra&onal Agency Ray Poynter The Future Place

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