It is important for communicators to gather feedback from the audiences that they serve. Though a two-way dialogue is ideal in terms of gaining that feedback, in many cases it is simply not realistic.
Feedback and data help marketers make relevant business decisions. Research allows creatives to focus their artwork and combine it with strategy. Yes, there is still that "gut" feeling of when something is awesome, but that inherent feeling can, in fact, be guided.
So when the scenario fails to deliver organic two-way communication, communicators need to rely on research techniques to farm information. Traditional techniques like the survey or the focus group are still go-to in terms of getting somewhat accurate data.
Or are they?
A recent study suggests that the responses on certain surveys are swayed not by the actual attitude of the participant, or even the questions being asked, but by the wording of the answers compared to the language bank of the participant.
Now that is fascinating.
Yes, many times we have created surveys to avoid or influence priming, to discourage halo effects, or to create answer biases based on the types of the questions asked and how the questions are phrased.
How simple is it to think that if the answer to a certain question matches the known vocabulary of the participant, they are more likely to choose that answer?
How do we break up this human error?
The research suggests that using complex algorithms to show the similarity of words within the questions and answers can help researchers create surveys that are "not language-based," meaning using wording that appears in an everyday vocabulary for the subjects.
The troubling issue is, then, how many major decisions have been made based on faulty information gathered on surveys that were language based? Are there ways to discount the information? Hopefully the researchers continue this very interesting study.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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