Ten years ago, if you discussed behavioural science with a market analyst, chances are that they would have seen the theory as a strictly theoretical endeavour, or even understand it as something marketers would begin to incorporate in their campaigns in frustration. Just a few could decide how it will be used in future market research.
Many fields of research, not only academic but also commercial, have been influenced by behavioural science, and its scope is only increasing. It will be good for researchers to take notice of this rising discipline and its implications for the future of market research. Yet we must consider its impact over current market research activities before we look to the future.
Behavioural Science in Brief
Many things have been described as human behaviour: unreasonable, erratic, emotionally motivated, etc. The study of human behaviour can be seen under several different names: cultural and social anthropology, psychology, sociology, and, to a lesser degree, cultural materialism and (new) historicism. For decades, human behaviour has been a fascination. Behavioural Science is a concept that encompasses all fields related to human behaviour studies.
Behavioural science is a concept that encompasses all human behaviour studies: psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc. Yet more and more, market research approaches and experiences are informed by the findings from these studies.
As mentioned before, with leading figures such as the Greek Thinkers, Freud, Higgins, etc. redefining and refining behavioural science with impressive advances such as the Theory of Human Existence, the discovery of psychological operating systems 1 (irrational, emotional decision-making governed by context) and 2 (rational , logical decision-making governed by context), it is historically seen as more of an intellectual endeavour But that does not mean that the ideas provided by their studies do not have other, more commercial applications as well.
Commercially, behaviour science has shaped more than one marketing strategy and consumer experience, with behavioural 'nudges' now being incorporated and observed in all brand interactions as standard for everyone on a daily basis. But are there behavioural science components that could be used in market research? Not to impact answers or insights-but to promote involvement in research and the number of comprehensive respondents to better inform the generation and actionability of insights.
Unconscious Biases and other Insights Influencing MRX
Insight practitioners are in the midst of solving a major problem in market research: participants do not always do as they say they will, which means that there is a significant gap in understanding that affects the actionability and accuracy of insights created from conventional research. Behavioural science helps researchers to begin to bridge the difference in understanding in a variety of ways, one way is by evaluating the difference between the goal of the customer and action. One subject that our whitepaper covers in more depth is bridging the intention-action gap.
In an attempt to debias research data, there is one specific behavioural science perspective that is taken into account by perspective professionals: each action we take is impacted by implicit biases, and this happens in both participants and researchers, so there are steps that researchers need to take to prevent this from happening on both sides of the research experience.
As a researcher, these prejudices can occur at any point in the research experience, during sampling, data collection, analysis, or insight generation and reporting processes, we could unwittingly convey implicit biases as easily as breathing if we do not take care. Steps to reduce bias include: implementing, where possible, impartial automation; being vigilant in the other stages of your own decisions and taking note of any prejudices (stereotyping, etc.) that exist in your thinking processes; blinding yourself to the contextual data behind the participant data that may cause your own prejudices.
As participants, we prefer to agree with the person we consider to be the most knowledgeable on a subject when asked to express our opinion on a topic, rather than relying on our own knowledge; orchestrating the research experience for participants so that everyone expresses their true opinion rather than relying on others would lend themselves to the generation of real insights. We may promote participant contact with each other in this way (commenting on the responses of each other), but only after their own true opinions have been stated.
That is not, however, the full scope of the impact of behavioural science on market research. There are a few research approaches focused on behavioural science insights that insight practitioners use every day, typically to build the clearest image possible in combination with more conventional research methods:
· Social Media Intelligence: Through their connections with online audiences, insight practitioners will learn a lot about users and participants. Social networking offers a chance for researchers to study subjects in their natural environment (using the word very loosely).
· Facial Coding and Eye Tracking-Insight practitioners can use implicit emotional contexts of facial expressions and eye tracking by using machine learning automation to get an insight into brand attitudes, reactions, and feelings.
· Passive data collection is a roadmap of online human actions, combined with conventional study data, offering a genius scale to calculate how large the distance for each participant is between purpose and action.
· Wearable Research is a passive data collection tool that often involves monitoring participants' movement and biorhythms, which can be used to educate organizations about where people are and what they do every day. A frightening thought in practicality, however commercially, this behavioural knowledge will work to provide companies with the means to construct a personalized personal experience that is individualized.
Ethical Considerations to Note
Researchers need to be considerate of the ethical notions at stake while researching human behaviour. The first is that, while behavioural science can be a boon to the process of market research, strengthening initial theories, teaching researchers who depend on data more than others, how to handle a control group or population effectively, we need to be careful not to use these techniques to manipulate the participants themselves in any way.
One consequence of this would be that the information would be absolutely corrupted, and null and void would be any knowledge that might be gained from the results, but the other consequence would be to undermine your credibility as a researcher.
There are brilliant tools available from a number of online educational and social agencies, such as the online publication of Behavioural Scientist, to support you on your journey, to ensure that you use behavioural science in the right, ethical way. When undertaking a study using behavioural science approaches, the Behavioural Scientist journal has compiled a succinct ethics guide as a starting point for your ethical concerns.