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Giving Voice to the Gift, Journal of Consumer Psychology


The field of consumer-object relations has recently emerged as a significant area of inquiry. Renewed attention has been devoted to understanding the meanings of gift giving as a result of this emergence. In this study, we employ projective techniques to uncover meanings that are less accessible by more direct measures. We analyze these meanings, and demonstrate the utility of projective techniques as a complement to other methods of investigation. The metamorphosis and growth of ethnography as an accepted method of consumer inquiry has brought both excitement and skepticism to the discipline. Participant observation, which views researcher-as-instrument and eschews detached lurking in research settings, encourages diversity in data collection and analysis techniques. In-depth interviews with key informants are often combined with observations to access the etic perspective of consumers. The etic perspective is the native viewpoint of the informant; its counterpart, the analyst's interpretation, is the etic perspective. Several articles have demonstrated the kinds of results that these techniques offer (Belk, Wallendoff, & Sherry, 1989; Sherry, 1990; Sherry & McGrath, 1989). we seek to demonstrate that the careful Use of projective techniques, applied in conjunction with ethnographic methods, can illuminate aspects of consumer experience that are difficult to study.




MaryAnn McGrath, Sidney Levy

Date Published



McGrath, MaryAnn, and Sidney Levy. 1993. Giving Voice to the Gift. Journal of Consumer Psychology. 2(2): 171-191.


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