Monday, June 29, 2009

The Technology of Context-Driven Qualitative Research

Someone asked me recently about the “technology” of Context-Driven Qualitative Research (CDQR), previously called “Cartoon Sequence Research.” Some of my previous blogs describe how a research project is conducted with this methodology. I use pictographs to depict a purchasing scenario. Why pictographs and not pictures?

Pictographs seek to understand consumer behavior by providing visual stimuli that is sufficiently contextual yet open to subjective interpretation. Our research shows that respondents tend not to identify with pictures that are too detailed, and cartoon-like pictographs tend to work better.

Respondents really open up when they are shown the pictographs and this appears to solve the post-rationalization problem that exists when you ask the respondent to recall their experience. The immediacy of the process also seems to capture emotions. This became evident in several instances. For example, pictographs showing the difficulty of finding a parking space revealed the same emotions as the real thing.

Originally, cartoonists were employed to translate pictures into cartoon-like pictographs. Since several sets were required to match the sets to respondents, this was very time- consuming. Now there are several good picture-to-cartoon software programs available, and artists are only used for “touch-ups” which this saves considerable time.

When CDQR was first developed, laminated pictographs and a tape recorder were utilized, now it is possible to perform the same task with a tablet PC. This also makes it easier when working in a focus group situation because the same pictographs can be projected to a screen.

Technology doesn’t seem to change things from the respondent’s perspective but it makes it easier to do the research. Also, on occasion, I still use laminated pictographs. If you’d like to take a whirl at this type of research, e-mail me at

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