I have to admit that I stole my title from an undergraduate psychology course taken many moons ago. In the 20+ years since the course name has changed slightly, but the professor is still the same. Back in the day, I observed how many physical and social elements can affect an individual's perception of an event. While the insights gleaned from the course certainly has been woven into the fabric of my thinking over the years, I was reminded again of the premise of the course when I read Naomi Henderson's summer 2011 article in Marketing Research: "The Value of Customer Insights." In the piece, Henderson ponders the fine distinctions between perception, opinion, beliefs and attitudes and then ultimate consumer behavior.
At the moment I am working on a project to carefully consider the concept of belief. Henderson defines belief as "a state of mind in which trust of confidence is placed in some person or thing." In this project we will be engaging in qualitative research to explore beliefs, how deeply seated they are, the source of the beliefs and the connection of belief to actions or attitudes.
Have you had success with any particular projective techniques when trying to tap into deep-seated beliefs? I would love to hear about them. Quite some time ago, we conducted a diary study among NPR listeners to gain a deeper understanding of how people perceive and experience their Saturdays and Sundays and how media (and NPR specifically) fits into their lives. We provided each diary-keeper with a page of 20 pictures and asked them to select an image that best represents how they were feeling as the day began. Saturdays were generally more harried. Sundays made more space for family and reflection and as a result the photo selections were more relaxed or spiritually oriented. I look forward to expanding our projective toolkit.
Lori Kaplan is the Director of Audience Insight & Research.