Interpreting consumer non-verbal behavior is more than just a nice gesture

July 5, 2011

consumer non-verbal behaviorWhat people do is always more telling than what they say.  That’s the real strength of qualitative asynchronous video research, because seeing expressions, gestures and other nonverbal communication gives insights that words alone can’t.

 

We often get asked how Qualvu researchers interpret nonverbal responses.  The short answer is that we read facial expressions and body language in the context of listening to respondents’ words.  When someone grimaces when they say, “that mayonnaise…ew!” we can tell from the combination of words and expression that the respondent is unhappy with the mayonnaise.  Watching and listening give us confidence in our interpretation.

 

If we have a respondent whose feedback is unclear or ambiguous – both verbally and non-verbally – we have the capability to ask follow-up questions using our unique asynchronous feedback technology.  We give consumers individually tailored follow-up questions that delve deeper into a response our research team has already collected and analyzed.  The additional video feedback usually clears up any ambiguity and lets us continue our analysis with confidence.

 

Asking questions of consumers brings up a question of researchers:  How do you ensure that research is objective and free from personal bias or opinion?

 

Most researchers agree that objectivity is a good quality to strive for.  But the very notion of objectivity is itself subjective.  For example, deciding that a 10-pint scale to measure consumer satisfaction is an “objective” tool, but that’s an entirely subjective decision a researcher makes.  Another researcher may decide to go with a word association exercise, aiming for the same “objective” measure of satisfaction.

 

The fact is that whenever a human designs a survey instrument, deciding what objectives are important and what aren’t, and then examines the data according to priorities, subjectivity enters the equation.  This is true for both quantitative and qualitative research.  Even quantitative research includes bias because a human researcher determined what questions were important to ask and what questions weren’t.

 

But when it comes to analyzing the data, objectivity becomes a more obtainable goal.  All the subjective work is out of the way, and from there, developing well-substantiated findings becomes a matter of skill and attention to detail.

 

So rather than try to add to an already exhaustive debate about objectivity in research, Qualvu takes the unique approach of letting the data speak for itself.  We develop high-level key findings describing major trends in the data and how they address key project objectives.  When then follow those key findings that sit alongside a video player in our online reports.  If you ever have questions about the accuracy of our findings, you can always play the video and let the respondents speak for themselves – verbally and non-verbally.

 

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For more on how Qualvu turns qualitative video data into decisions, download our recent webinar!


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