Posts Tagged ‘Qualitative Research Tips’

Qualitative Design: Utilizing Positive Affect Techniques

Posted on: May 8th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Laura Duguid

Positive AffectTraditionally, positive affect techniques have been used in the context of brainstorming sessions, helping to free minds and encourage divergent thinking. Often overlooked however is how inducing positive affect in qualitative design can be beneficial.

Positive affect refers to the extent to which an individual subjectively experiences positive moods such as joy, interest, and alertness. Research shows that by inducing positive affect, one can improve a person’s verbal fluency.1 What’s more, positive affect has been associated with generating increased dopamine levels in the brain, which in turn has been shown to improve cognitive flexibility.2

Practically, inducing positive affect is all about establishing and maintaining an affirming, comfortable environment where respondents feel relaxed and completely free to express their thoughts and opinions. Telling them is not enough. The moderator, the room set-up, and the discussion guide all must contribute. For example:

  • A comfortable, living-room type environment rather than a formal conference table set-up
  • Ease into the discussion more slowly by doing an extra ice breaker, going beyond only respondent introductions
  • Humor! One idea is to find an appropriate yet comical video on YouTube that’s related to the discussion topic as a means of inciting laughter. Humor is one of THE most powerful, efficient ways to induce positive affect.
  • Incorporate movement. Halfway through the group, direct respondents to get up and move around or change seats. This helps literally and figuratively change their perspective, alleviating stale, repetitious responses.
  • Integrate highly engaging, respondent tasks into the discussion guide. Think of creative ways to garner information that require respondents to draw, assemble something, get up and walk to images posted in the room, do brief creative writing exercises, etc.

For research purposes, it’s important to understand that respondents can express negative opinions about a discussion topic without putting a damper on the positive affect. How? Through positive reinforcement from the moderator. Once a respondent has shared information – positive or negative – complimentary encouragement by the moderator (for ALL respondents) is key. In fact, according to Professor Norihiro Sadato, study lead and professor at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan, “To the brain, receiving a compliment is as much a social reward as being rewarded money. We’ve been able to find scientific proof that a person performs better when they receive a social reward after completing an exercise.”3

While it’s highly unlikely respondents will trade their participation honorarium for compliments, the power of the two together, along with other positive affect influences will certainly assure rich, prolific qualitative results.

 

1 Science Direct, L.H. Philips, R. Bull, E. Adams, L. Fraser, Positive mood and executive function: Evidence from stroop and fluency tasks

2 Psychological Review, 106 (3) (1999), pp. 529-550, A neuropsychological theory of positive affect and its influence on cognition, F.G. Ashby, A.M. Isen, A.U. Turken

3Forbes Online, November 9, 2012, David DiSalvo

Loving the List: A Qualitative Perspective

Posted on: April 27th, 2017 by doyle


Reading-a-list-225x300From the desk of Natanya Rubin

Recruiting qualitative respondents from a database can be a challenge when the target is very specialized.  The solution is sometimes a list provided by the client.  But list recruits come with their own challenges and it’s important to face them with creativity and realistic expectations.

Factors to consider when determining the viability of a list include:

  • The type of contact information available: Does the list provide the full name of the respondent?  Does the list provide an e-mail address, home phone number, and cell phone number?  Often, e-mail is the most efficient way to reach respondents, but the subject line and body text must be very compelling to break through the general bulk of spam that people receive.
  • The accuracy of the list: How current is the list?  The longer ago the information was collected, the less likely it is to be accurate.
  • The size of the list: Conventional wisdom in the recruiting sphere says that for a “good” list—that is, one with full, current information—there should be 30 names provided for each desired recruit. But that number can go up to 70 or 100 depending on the factors above.
  • The ability to reveal the sponsor of the research: Can the sponsor of the research be identified, or is it a blinded study?  Often, there are compelling reasons to obscure the origin of the study.  But in a world where people are trained not to click on a link from an e-mail address they don’t recognize or pick up a call from an unknown number, it’s an uphill battle to get a reply from respondents not primed for research.

So how to break through and make a list work harder?  It’s important to consider the pitch that you’re going to deliver to potential respondents.  Thought needs to be put into a catchy subject line, a clear and compelling explanation of the study, and an appeal that makes it clear why they, personally, are so important to the study.

It’s also necessary to understand that even with a brilliant pitch, a lot more unprimed respondents are going to say no than yes.  Allowing more time for recruiting and considering sweetening the deal with a higher incentive are both ways to improve the possibility of a favorable response.

Sometimes a qualitative recruit can’t be completed without a list, but the challenges can be considerable!  Knowing the difficulties in advance can prepare you for success through careful planning, patience, and making the best case possible for a respondent to join the study.

Qualitative Research: Through a Different Lens

Posted on: January 26th, 2017 by doyle

PrintFrom the desk of Kathy Doyle

I spent last week in LA at QRCA’s 2017 annual conference.   It continues to be the “go to” event for qualitative research practitioners who want to stay abreast of trends and share best practices with colleagues.

This year the theme of the conference was The Power of Perspective – looking outside our industry for insights, as well as observing our industry through a different lens.  Through five standout presentations, I gained insights from teen journalists, a radio show host, a comedian and theater major, an attorney, detective, ASL interpreter, visual illuminator, zoo director, storyteller, educator, conductor, social worker, and even a forensics expert!   Many thanks to Teen Press, Susan Sweet and Jay Picard, Laurie Tema-Lyn, Chris Kann, and Dina Shulman and Marc Engel for your fabulous contributions.

Five things I took away from the conference (plus so many more!):

  1. Talk less, listen more.    Across a variety of professions that listen for a living, some variation of that theme emerges.     Observe body language.  Mirror physical responses.  Empathize.   But stop talking so much!
  2. Resist the urge to fill the silences in an interview or focus group.  Sometimes sitting with the silence will reveal insights that simply take longer to emerge.   And sometimes a long pause is………… part of the answer.
  3. Look to Hollywood for storytelling inspiration.    View your report as a story, with a plotline and characters.  View the executive summary as a trailer.   Make sure your report features the equivalent of the “I want” song found in most musicals.   And, when appropriate, create composite characters (what we call personas) that represent key segments.
  4. Rethink the belief that maintaining objectivity is the best stance to take as a researcher.  Perhaps it’s OK to reveal parts of yourself–to be human, and to truly immerse yourself in your respondent’s world–to convey context and gain deeper, more authentic insights.
  5. Reconsider how we ask Q’s.  Consider starting specific rather than general, upsetting the funnel approach which has been our gospel. Perhaps that completely open-ended question is too open and leads to responses that are too broad to yield true insight.  And consider the value of asking your respondents to ask questions of themselves, rather than doing all the questioning.   You might be surprised at what you learn.

I walked away feeling energized and empowered to look at what we do, on a daily basis,  with a fresh perspective.

Building Rapport: A Key Ingredient of Successful Qualitative Projects

Posted on: January 17th, 2017 by doyle

rapportFrom the desk of Jo-Ann Ryan

During the course of my qualitative career, clients and colleagues have told me that one of my strengths is being able to establish rapport with people from all walks of life. So I would like to share what I have learned about fostering trust and encouraging candid responses:

Setting expectations upfront. This seems basic but it’s important. When the moderator informs respondents about what to expect during a qualitative interview or group discussion (e.g., the length, the topic, the purpose, recording of the research, observers/listeners, etc.), it increases their comfort level and makes them more likely to share their thoughts and feelings.

Showing respondents unconditional positive regard (UPR). A good moderator should convey to respondents that all perspectives and opinions are welcome and respected. It begins with the moderator’s belief and attitude that everyone has something to offer – an opinion, an idea, or an experience — a potential nugget that could make the entire project worthwhile. During introductions, set the tone by acknowledging each person by name and thanking them for sharing information about themselves.

Being genuine. I think respondents are more apt to respond honestly if they sense that the moderator is being open with them, and is being true to their own personality and style.

Realizing you can’t judge a book by its cover. It is natural to form an initial impression of people based on appearance, but the moderator and clients should not let it get in the way of listening to each person and believing that each person represents a unique perspective that has value. I have been pleasantly surprised by what I had initially expected from a respondent versus what they actually were able to contribute.

Having an open mind. It is not uncommon to begin a qualitative study with client hypotheses about what we will discover during the research (e.g., why customers are dissatisfied, which ad or concept will be most appealing). However, the moderator and clients need to be ready to accept differing ideas and perspectives that could potentially lead to a complete redo of an ad campaign or a major refinement of a new product concept.

The bottom line – establishing good rapport with qualitative respondents can yield valuable insights for clients, and respondents will feel appreciated for their time and willingness to take a risk and share their honest thoughts and feelings.

Costing Qualitative, Part 4: Can You Save Money by Conducting Your Research Online?

Posted on: August 3rd, 2016 by doyle

From the desk of Kathy Doyleproject-costing-image1

There is a perception among clients that online research is cheaper to conduct than in-person research. Is this really true? The answer is “It depends”. Let me explain…

Both online and in-person research studies include all of the same cost components: recruiting, incentives, moderating, report, and location fees (what you save on facility costs is spent on software licensing). So when comparing an in-person group to an online group, the costs are about the same.

Where the cost-savings come into play is in study design. Let’s say, for example, that you want to conduct research in 3 different regions of the country. With in-person research, you must travel to each of the 3 regions, and conduct a minimum of 2 groups per market (you should never rely on a single group), in order to achieve your research objectives. With online research, each group can be recruited to include a regional mix. So you may be able to conduct only 2-3 groups in order to achieve your research objectives. And therein lies the savings. Six in-person groups compared to only 3 online groups saves you almost 50% while still achieving your objectives.

So, can you save money by conducting your research online? It depends!

Wrapping up this 4-part series:

In sum, there is no standard qualitative bid.   Each project is unique and complex, with many variables to consider.   Understanding the variables that impact price can help you better design research projects that meet your budget constraints and minimize surprises.

To read the other posts in the series:

Part 1: Four Key Factors That Impact Price

Part 2: Apples to Apples Comparisons

Part 3: Hidden/Forgotten Costs