Questions, Answers, and Validity in Online Qualitative Research

Fun picture, Morgan!

Fun picture, Morgan!

Opinions will always be important hallmarks in qualitative market research. Drawing conclusions from these insights, however, also requires other elements. One of the most important is the customer’s decision-making process. Expert researchers and interviewers are quite used to catching inferences and gauging reaction. After all, flash judgments can mean much as customer loyalty when exploring the grocery aisle.

Your markets’ preferences can seem simple. Quality, features, packaging, and other hallmarks are valuable standards within corporate boardrooms and trade journals alike. Within these paradigms, however, customers’ decision-making process is complex and multi-faceted. Impressions and reactions also provide a wealth of insight.

System 1 and 2 Thinking

Daniel Kahneman’s life work investigates these how reaction and opinion take shape and intertwine. One of two psychologists to win the Nobel Prize for Economics, Kahneman offers some profound findings and systems for researchers and marketers.Fast and Slow Thinking, his seminal work, introduces and chronicles a premise that he devises through two interlocking systems.

  • System 1 is quick, intuitive, and emotional. It helps with quick judgments, like gauging the distance of an object. System 1 also operates automatically, with little or no effort or voluntary control.
  • System 2 is slower, deliberative, and logical. It allocates attention to mental activities that demand it, like parallel parking and complex computations.

While System 1 is important, Kahneman believes we fundamentally identify with System 2. Beliefs, decisions, and choices are all dependent on the conscious, reasoning self. What guides System 2, however, is System 1. Feelings and impressions are the main foundations for System 2’s more purposeful choices and beliefs. Automatic, System 1 is also the primarily mode most people think moment-to-moment, with System 2 operating in the background at low-effort mode.

Impressions then turn into beliefs when both systems agree. When System 1 runs into trouble it asks for help from System 2. Perception and analysis then rephrases into a more conscious effort guided by System 1’s initial impressions and emotions. System 1, System 2, and their results all merit consideration during qualitative analysis and observation.

System 1: Always on, Always Error-prone

Kahneman’s own analysis covers System 1’s typical errors, and primarily concentrates on their identification at that. While quite accurate and articulate, System 2 also enters minimal use until System 1 nudges it. Kahneman himself finds System 2 does not always kick in, much to humanity’s chagrin.

Implications for market research are actually quite deep. On one hand, researchers must consider engagement: are interviewees responding with surface impressions or true conclusions? On another, researchers can also analyze how they interact when customers formulate their impressions.

The wrong question is among the quickest dead ends in qualitative research. Kahneman finds that interviewees are particularly adept at providing answers without knowing why or how. Misinterpreting the question and offering quick answers are two other prime culprits. Of course, such hiccups have serious ramifications for any qualitative assessments that require deep, cohesive answers.

One natural solution is creating upfront interview questions. Requesting details or immediate impressions, if pertinent, can be dramatically helpful for ensuring validity. Aside from clearness, make sure the question fits the detail. Keep phrases short and direct when gauging immediate reaction. If looking for detail, make sure to include some verbal prompts to signify the elements that customers should identify and comment on.

Online Applications for Qualitative Research

Collecting System 1 reactions and System 2 conclusions is vital for all qualitative market research. Quantitative studies can outright encourage detailed answers or not, sure. Without observation and analysis, however, there is no true evidence that survey takers are conveying their true conclusions.

Tracking participant reactions and opinions through research platforms like In fact, we particularly work to increase ease and control within qualitative market research. Trace participants’ quick impressions to the exact moment and review answers for quotes and other highlights. Video-synced transcriptions with keyword search, video clip makers, and other tools all make a vital difference when combing for pertinent data.

The importance of real-time interaction will probably never change. The same does not necessarily apply to in-person presence. Traditional qualitative methods require large budgets and slow schedules. Projects jam up as a result, decreasing the chance to maximize appeal and fit.  Alternately, the cloud also cuts costs, logistics, and time requirements. Add HD resolutions, and online qualitative studies include all the valuable detail of in-person studies. With us, you collect more information in less time with our industry-leading service. Schedule a demo with us today to learn more.

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