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QRCA Annual Conference Preview: Using a Behavioral Economics Lens to Research Behavior

Posted By Lauren McCrae, Lux Insights, Inc., Wednesday, October 25, 2017
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Daniel Kahneman and Richard Thaler have both won the Nobel Prize in Economics for their work on behavioural economics, and since Thinking, Fast & Slow was published in 2011, discussion of the systematic biases in how humans think has become mainstream in the market research field. But is being aware of these biases the only thing market researchers need to do in order to obtain better insights?

I argue that we need to understand all the influences on human behaviour, beyond just what goes on in people’s heads, in order to structure our research so that we can truly understand decision-making. This includes the physical and social context in which decisions are made, the skills and capabilities individuals have, as well as their internal motivations, whether those are conscious or subconscious. How can we understand all of this through our research?

Here are a few approaches to help get a more complete picture of what drives behaviour, without introducing bias by asking participants directly:

§ Spend more time on introductions understanding how participants see themselves in general, probing on areas you want to know more about. It’s amazing how much you can learn from asking in an open-ended way for someone to describe themselves.

§ Ask family or friends about participants’ personalities. Spouses, parents and friends can all provide a different context, and reveal important traits of participants about which participants themselves may be unaware.

§ Ask about experiences that are similar to, but not exactly the behaviour you are researching. For example, if you want to understand online purchasing behaviour, find out about what participants do online in general, and why.

I will be talking more about the factors that influence behaviour, and how to create a discussion guide that will help you uncover the major influencers, at the QRCA annual conference in Phoenix taking place January 24-26, 2018. Please join me in Phoenix to learn more: www.qrca.org/2018


Tags:  behavioral economics  Daniel Kahneman  human behavior  qualitative research  Richard Thaler 

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