I. Focus groups / Interviews
Focus Groups and individual interviews typically involve qualitative data collected in an open-ended manner. This method is useful for real time general feedback on products and ideas such as getting reactions to a commercial. However, although the in-depth and flexible format can capture both Emotion and Reason, Focus Groups are not ideal for understanding the connections between the two and the process of decision-making. Another drawback is that these formats often ask respondents to think and feel in artificial patterns rather than the natural cognitive process that their brain uses. Finally, even the most skilled interviewer can introduce bias into the data collection procedure, in addition to the pressure/polarization common to focus groups, limiting the likelihood of obtaining an uninhibited response.
II. Projective Techniques
Projective Techniques generally involve using stimuli or prompts that encourage respondents to project their underlying motivations, beliefs, attitudes, or feelings onto an ambiguous situation, thus indirectly accessing respondents uninhibited Emotion and Reason. Examples of this technique are word association, sentence completion, story completion, role playing, third person, collage, picture sorting, and bubble drawing. The strength of Projection techniques is the low cognitive demand of the more creative and free tasks in which Reason does not tend to overwhelm and inhibit Emotion, thus allowing for the capture of both.
The testing context of many self-administered Projective Techniques, such as word association or story completion allow for the removal of social bias in the testing environment and a more uninhibited response. Some techniques, however, require researcher interaction, such as role playing, and therefore may not provide uninhibited response data due to social bias and performance demands on the individual. The major limitation of Projection tools used on their own, however, is the resulting qualitative data set which is difficult to analyze, interpret, and turn into actionable insights.
III. Statistical Techniques: max Difference and conjoinT analysis
Max Difference is a discrete choice model asking respondents to choose from sets of targets. This technique is useful to understand absolute preferences and choices among pre-determined sets. It is fairly low in cognitive demand and easy for respondents to perform, thus facilitating natural brain processes.
Without qualitative data, however, it is difficult to understand how/why choices are made and the role of Emotion or Reason driving them. This is a drawback shared by Conjoint Analysis which shows respondents many different contexts that systematically vary on specific attributes. Conjoint analysis can also be a little cognitively demanding, hindering the Emotion/Reason loop, although the respondents are free in this condition to follow the natural cognitive flow as they assess trade-offs.
The biggest difference in these quantitative techniques, especially in contrast to the Brain Surgery tool, is in the source of the stimuli and attributes within the testing framework. The set of information for respondents to evaluate is determined by the researcher, with no additional opportunity to learn from respondents and gain additional insights on factors not pre-determined as part of the study design.
VII. Stated and Derived importantce
Additionally, there is the approach of comparing Stated and Derived Importance. This approach involves the collection of survey data regarding specific attributes (stated importance) as well as more general indicators of product evaluation from which attributes get a derived importance based on a correlation analysis. Although this approach can be done in a testing environment limiting bias, this approach does not pass the other test criteria. From this technique it is not possible to understand the components of the decision output or the role of Emotion and Reason. The respondent may or may not (likely not) process survey questions in the natural cognitive flow that enhances response validity and insight. Finally, Stated and Derived Importance is a quantitative method missing possible depth from qualitative data.
VIII. Neuroscience ‘Device’ Techniques
Finally, there is the approach of using Neuroscience methods, such as EEG, fMRI, and psychophysiology, within the Market Research context. Companies using these scientific research tools often make claims that by using the tools of Neuroscience they measure the unconscious brain activity and know the ‘truth’ behind what someone is thinking. Unfortunately the use of these devices in isolation without also incorporating neuroscience theory and practice into these methods limits their utility outside of the research lab.
While it may seem paradoxical for this critique to negatively evaluate the tools used that are directly related to discovery of the principles discussed, neuroscience devices, like any method, must be used properly for valid insight. Due to the expense and complexity of many neuroscience devices, they are not appropriate for use outside of the lab without experts who best know how to use them and deal with the data that they produce.
Without proper expertise to determine sampling, stimuli, and data analysis, the data sets produced from these devices cannot be interpreted to reflect emotion or reason independently or in relation to each other, despite the natural decision making that may be allowed to occur in some of the research contexts. Furthermore, the device methods rarely have validated predictive algorithms by which to map and understand the enormous and complex data sets that they acquire, in addition to the fact that they are often unaccompanied by qualitative data, making interpretation difficult.