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Is it Implicit? Thoughts on System 1

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Capturing System 1 type responses is a hot topic amongst Market Researchers currently – “is it implicit?” is a question we’re often asked about research designs.

The ongoing and broadening popularity of Behavioural Economics is a strong driver: Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow is available at seemingly every airport bookshop, BE guru Richard Thaler was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for Economics. Impressive and broadly influential, including amongst Marketing folk, who are often clientside budget owners.

But does that mean every MR design needs an implicit approach? Should we forget about System 2?

We’d suggest a more balanced approach is advisable, delivering more robust outputs – dependent on the specific research need.

Lengthier, more considered purchase decisions, for example, such as deciding on a form of insurance or buying a car, will have multiple phases where System 2 style logic is indeed brought to bear.

There’s also a growing body of evidence suggesting a higher predictive validity when both System 1 and System 2 responses are assessed.

Some analogies from related areas:

If we wished to assess a person’s character traits or abilities, would we solely rely on less-biased 3rd party views rather than eliciting self-perception as well?

Or as researchers, should we omit “stated importance” because “derived” values are more powerful in an attribute ranking?

These would only deliver partial results.

Happy Thinking People have their roots in qualitative research, and as such are no strangers to techniques designed to address multiple biases – projective techniques, story-telling, gamification to name a few are techniques we have applied for decades to get at gut reactions, avoiding over-rational responses.

We have also recently expanded our toolkit to encompass a range of System 1 measurement Tools as add-ons to existing H/T/P Methods: eye-tracking, facial recognition, an IAT test and an emotional slider. We’ve called it PLUS1.

If you’re interested in more details about the above, benefits offered, how the methods work – read on here – PLUS1 – and please get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.



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