Behavioral Science Series No. 7. Behavioral Science in Research

Fresh Squeezed Ideas has developed a behavioral science practice with tools that give us access to System 1, this intuitive autopilot decision-making system. The practice is structured around four behavioral science principles:

1. Projection over intention

How do we get around people's natural inability to accurately predict what they are going to do in the future? Ask them what they think others will do. By getting people to project onto others, we remove some of the biases that can cloud research results. For example, people don't have to worry about what the researcher will think of them or how their answers will be interpreted. So they feel less pressure to present a certain way and to conform with how they think they should behave. What's even better is if you get enough of these projective opinions from a large, diverse crowd of people, they are often more accurate than a smaller group of experts.

2. Them over us

As researchers, we should never impose our own biases or opinions onto our respondents. Often with survey-based research, there's a number of assumptions that are baked into our research tools by the creator. For example, respondents are presented with a list of attributes related to a brand that we, the researchers, select for them, and then from this limited list we ask them to tell us which is most important. Already we're assuming that we know what those attributes of importance could be. Instead, we need a way of revealing those attributes organically by relying on the respondent to tell us.

3. Implicit over explicit

If you'd like to know what my values are, you could ask me a question and I could explicitly tell you the answer, but there's a number of issues with this approach. First, I'm certainly going to tell you what I would want you to think about me, not the actual truth. Secondly, I'll probably think rationally about the question first and then provide you with a well-thought-out answer. Even though my answer may sound interesting and informed, is that actually a true reflection of my beliefs or a good indication of my future behavior?

Probably not. The method is relying on System 2 thinking the slower deliberative approach, but we now know that our decisions are guided by System 1, the fast intuitive system. So using implicit rather than explicit approaches can help us explore System 1 instead of relying on the rationalized answers that we're likely to get from explicit questioning.

4. Task over ask

Since we know that respondents turn to System 2 thinking in order to answer research questions we task over ask. How else can we get a sense of their opinions, beliefs or future behaviors? At Fresh Squeezed Ideas, we use a task over ask, approach where instead of directly asking respondents, we get them to complete a task or an activity or we observe their behavior directly. Their actual behaviors and decisions are captured in this context, which is much more similar to how they would be revealed in real life.

To learn more about how our methods can help solve your business challenges, contact us.

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