Replying to: [David Goldstein, 951029]
You are guessing that the person has become anxious about whether the
registration form has been received and that the telephone call is a means
reducing this anxiety.
You are quite correct; I am guessing But I'd like to think that it
is an educated, or at least an intelligent, guess.
The reference perception is: I want to know that my registration form is
received and I want to know where/when I should report.
I agree that test candidates want the information above, but I'm
not so sure those information needs or wants constitute reference
perceptions. I do think test candidates form or have expectations
about when they should hear from us. In any case, I see no reason
why a reference condition (which I think is different from a reference
perception) couldn't be expressed in terms of an emotional state
such as anxiety. Nor do I have much doubt that a state of anxiety
can be induced by a lack of information, especially if it is important
The actual perception is: I have not received any information from ETS.
Agreed; although, in many cases, I would be inclined to add "since x."
And x might be the date they submitted their registration, the date they
could reasonably expect us to have it, the date they expected to hear
from us, the time frame we specify in the bulletin, or some time frame
they've set for themselves. Whatever time frame is involved, and I think
this feeds a sense of anxiety brought about by a lack of information.
The action is: I will make a telephone call.
Agreed; and the purpose served, I think (or, if you prefer, the
purpose I am guessing is served), is to obtain information and
thereby reduce uncertainty and anxiety.
The test of disturbance would be: Vary the amount of information which the
person receives from ETS:
(1) No information sent.
(2) We have received your registration form.
(3) We have received your registration form and will
let you know where/when to report in X weeks.
(4) We have not received your registration form.
(5) We have received your registration form but there is a
(1) is essentially what happens now. (2) is what I proposed by
way of an acknowledgement and (3) and (5) are variations of that.
I don't see how (4) could be effected, because we do not know
beforehand who is or isn't going to register.
The PCT approach is an individual, case by case approach. Your question
suggests that you are more interested in the group results so that you could
find a way of reducing the number of inquiry calls. The PCT approach may
be appropriate for your interests.
If, as I happen to believe, the group results in this case are the sum
of individual actions, then why wouldn't the PCT approach be
Another thought is: If this is really a practical matter, how about asking
the person for an agreement such as--I will not call ETS for information
until X weeks have passed with no response. The applicant could fill out
the X time. In this way, the person is specifying what they want in terms
of time. If ETS responds before this time, the person shouldn't call. If
ETS responds after this time then the person is more likely to call, with
the liklihood increasing with the amount of time after X which goes by
(the error signal).
This is a rational, sensible suggestion, and we in effect have just
such an arrangement in place by virtue of informing the candidate
how long it takes to process their registrations and when they should
expect their tickets. However, people don't seem able to tolerate the
time lapse and I'm not sure that negotiating one would make a big
difference. In this same practical vein, we could only negotiate a
time frame that would be inside the time envelope we could satisfy.
In any event, your comments have been helpful and I appreciate
your taking the time to reply.