[Toegepaste Taalwetenschap in Artikelen 16A] 1983
► pp. 83–113
To identify problems that citizens meet when reading a public leaf-let, we invited some subjects to participate in a thinking aloud experiment. They were asked to find out if a Dutch regulation on Rent Rebate Grants would apply in the situation of a certain Mr. De Vries. The thinking aloud procedure as a method of collecting data is often criticized. However, objections against this method also hold for other, more widely accepted methods like those using open end questions, etc. The analysis of the thinking aloud protocols we collected, led us to three provisional conclusions, that could be the base for a number of hypotheses in further research: 1. Readers tend to follow their own intuitions about the way they should act, rather than the instructions a leaflet provides. It is supposed that a leaflet would be more effective if it 'forces' the reader to follow the text exactly. Flowcharts seem to be an adequate solution. 2. Readers have to 'translate' the text of a leaflet into instruc-tions for solving their problem. These translations seem to raise fewer difficulties when the text is written in a style using 'prescriptions' (commands) or 'scenario's' (conditional statements), than when the text is written in a 'descriptive' style. 3. Readers often wrongly do not skip text passages that are irrelevant to their personal situation. More explicit indications in this respect could make the texts more effective.
Article language: Dutch