Projective Techniques

Projective Techniques: Do We Know What They Are Projecting?

A focus group moderator’s guide will often include group exercises or facilitation techniques as alternative approaches to direct questioning.  While many of these alternative tactics are not unique to the group discussion method, and are also used in in-depth intercollageview research, they have become a popular device in focus groups, esp., in the marketing research field.  These alternative approaches can be broadly categorized as either enabling or projective techniques, the difference being whether the moderator’s intent is to simply modify a direct question to make it easier for group participants to express their opinions (enabling techniques) or  delve into participants’ less conscious, less rational, less socially-acceptable feelings by way of indirect exercises (projective techniques).   Examples of enabling techniques are: sentence completion – e.g., “When I think of my favorite foods, I think of _____.” or “The best thing about the new city transit system is _____.”; word association – e.g., asking prospective college students, “What is the first word you think of when Read Full Text

Insights vs. Metrics: Finding Meaning in Online Qualitative Research

The use of projective techniques in qualitative marketing research has become an accepted as well as expected practice in the industry.   Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews (whether face-to-face or online) are particularly suitable for activities that go beyond the question-response format.  There are any number of reasons for using projective techniques but they essentially boil down to something similar to the statement from AQR: “What these techniques have in common is that they enable participants to say more about the research subject than they can say spontaneously, accessing thoughts, feelings or meanings which are not immediately available.”  Or, something along the lines of tearing down walls as from Applied Marketing Research: “Projective techniques are important in breaking through the wall of rationalizations consumers use on a daily basis to justify the purchase or likes/dislikes of products or brands.”

Projective techniques come in a variety of flavors.  In addition to those listed on the AQR site – collage, personification, bubble drawing, role playing, etc. – there is also guided imagery, picture sorts, sentence completion, tarot cards, and more.  The types of projective techniques used by researchers has grown over the years (and continues to grow), primarily because many researchers believe (although, I am not one of them) that there is no limit to what is acceptable as a projective technique, and online resources such as Pinterest have broadened the projective possibilities.

Researchers have promoted and defended their use of projective techniques based on the ability to tap into the less-public portion of people’s minds and thereby gain a ‘truer’ picture Read Full Text

Qualitative Research: Use of Projective Techniques Depends on Objectives

A qualitative research study whose primary goal is to generate as many ideas as possible – e.g., to help launch a new product, service, or name – is different than a qualitative study that sets out to gain insight into the behavior and attitudes among a target group.  The former is exemplified by ideation sessions where, for all intents and purposes, every idea is a good idea.  The other type of qualitative research objective is far more focused in nature, directed at uncovering an in-depth understanding of an individual’s lifestyle and point of view, and where ideas are only as good as the degree to which they complement an individual’s mindset.

This distinction in objectives is important to qualitative research design because it can greatly impact Read Full Text