New thinking in social sciences is very persuasive – so have you applied it to your research projects?
Psychologists have demonstrated how priming affects people’s behaviour so fundamentally that even your name can impact on the career path you take. (If you’re called Dennis, you’re more likely to become a Dentist!)
Every researcher needs to take a hard look at their research project and think – how have I primed (or biased this)? And more, we should be thinking: how should I prime this? Group discussions are often a long way away from ‘the night out’, ‘watching telly’, ‘being in the store’, so it’s a must to prime respondents to that setting before research. If you’re doing in-store groups why not get respondents to do a shop before the group starts? Before advertising research get respondents to watch TV…
Best yet, do the research in context – where participants are fully primed. New technology really gives us a good shot at that too – let’s use it.
If we accept the impact of priming on decisions it leads us to the conclusion that testing new ideas out of context is pretty much a waste of time. Respondents will give you opinions, but ultimately, ideas shown out of context won’t help with understanding decision making. So NPD concepts need to be shown alongside competitor products and decision making needs to be explored as part of NPD. If you can’t put your new idea in the store, there are ways of re-creating decision making through games and experiments, so ‘gamification’ is worth considering for NPD.
Decision Making Biases
Behavioural economists have highlighted biases in our behaviour: we often fear loss more than gain, for example. We are also better at predicting other people’s behaviour than our own. Care & attention to detail in the specific questions we ask in research is crucial (but often over-looked): ‘what are you weighing up?’, ‘what’s the potential risk you see in buying this?’, ‘who do you see buying this?’, these are all questions that match with insights from behavioural economics, and take us a step on from likes; dislikes; understanding…(It’s not easy to get out of the habit of ‘what do you like/ dislike, by the way, it takes practise to ask the right questions!’)
Social scientists have spent the last 30 years establishing how social our minds are – we are set up to think socially, to be like others around us. So much so, that if someone who is a friend, of a friend of a friend loses weight it makes the probability that you will lose weight higher (simply by being connected in a social network – freaky!). Research should involve social networks. Respondents can be ‘anchor participants’ accessing their social network and giving us access to it too. We need to move away from the idea of interviewing the individual and explore how we can capture network responses…
Design Thinking has been very influential recently. One part of this concept is ‘prototyping’. This can be applied to research – giving respondents models and mock-ups of ideas – concrete, physical, or experiences. This means playing with new pack ideas in context, or walking through what a new banking experience would be like. A concrete experience (even at a very rough prototype stage) gets the brain tuned in to what is on offer. Get out your pens, glue and card-board. Get prototyping!
Qual Street has been set up to apply current thinking in social sciences and human behaviour to research. Your project is examined in this context: what’s the right way to do this so it really reflects how people behave, think and feel? Please do get in touch if you’d like to explore Qual Street’s approach to research further. Or tell a friend!