If Only Asking Questions Worked – We wouldn’t Need Psychology

Imagine if behavioral science was as easy as asking people explicit questions about their behavior–we wouldn’t need the disciplines of psychology, sociology, neuroscience, behavioral economics and cultural anthropology. 

If asking people why they do what they do isn’t good enough to reveal true insight within the behavioral sciences, why would we expect it to be good enough to reveal true behavioral insight within consumer market research?

Implicit association testing has opened up previously undiscovered channels of market research, but in order to get the most out of implicit data researchers should also plan to incorporate data based on reason-based judgements.

It’s the combination of System 1 and System 2 processing that drives consumers to make the choices they do, so it stands to reason that the best way to analyze their behavior is to take both models into account.

Don’t think of a pink elephant. No really! Don’t think of a pink elephant. When somebody tells you to not think of a pink elephant, what happens? You can’t help it. You think of a pink elephant.

This is an old trick from the social psychologists to illustrate the idea of automatic, irrepressible cognition. We call this a “prime.”

When you’re primed with an image or a word or a sound or a scent, something happens automatically for you in your mind. Those associations that you have with that prime become accessible. And it influences your behavior toward or away from that stimulus.

Implicit association testing works on this basic principle, of priming and response time following a prime.

So, just like the pink elephant, when we show you Disney, what happens?

You have automatic associations with that brand. They might be, for example, celebration, warmth, childhood, security…

Whatever your associations with Disney, when you are primed with the Disney brand, those associations become more accessible.

And we’ve known this in marketing, that we’ve wanted our brands to be top-of-mind. But now we know there’s a neural basis for that. You can see we have a way to talk about it.

The strength of those associations can be characterized as your implicit attitude towards that brand, and they influence your behavior toward or away from that brand.

When we think of System 1 and System 2 thinking, think of that as System 1 what’s happening automatically and associatively in your mind.

It’s really one piece of the picture. So we see Disney we might think childhood, celebration, warmth… that may give rise to an emotion like happiness, that you actually feel. Or you may have those implicit associations with happiness.

But theres more going on there, right? it’s not just System 1 that determines whether you take a vacation at Disney. You actually engage your System 2, or your rational mind.

And when you think of—it’s very cognitive in nature, there’s formulas involved. And when you think of a vacation of seven days in Disney you might feel good. But then you see the price tag $9,300, but what kind of emotion is that gong to lead to? Maybe anxiety. (The price is figurative)

And so, this becomes an emotional push and pull for the consumer. All of that data is quantifiable now that we have these advanced implicit association research tools. We can actually quantify the degree of emotional weight that people place on all of those associations that they have with a brand, as well as the negative emotional reaction, if it’s there, for the price. And that weighting mechanism helps determine ultimate consumer choice.

Straylight is partnering with the world’s largest behavioral research firm Sentient Decision Science regarding our Implicit Association Test.

Straylight Association Test utilizes the most cutting-edge technology available to perform implicit research and quantify the emotional component of choice. It is the most advanced and scalable implicit association testing platform in the world.

Proven to be a more accurate predictor of consumer behavior, it creatively combines the behavioral sciences with the latest technologies to assess emotional associations with brands, products, packaging, advertising and more.

Ten years of advanced research from the Sentient Consumer Subconscious Research Lab, thousands of global implicit studies, and the measurement of over 100 million subconscious associations has produced insights on the drivers of consumer behavior that traditional explicit measures are unable to capture.

Enhance your current market research techniques with Straylight Implicit Association Test.

The test is:

Globally Scalable

Cultural and bias free data in any language

Measure multiple emotional and brand attribute associations.

Seamless integration with existing survey, brand tracking and product testing methods.

Optimized engagement via stimulating experience and real-time emotional feedback.

Increasing predictive validity (i.e. more accurate prediction of a behavior of interest).

Natural approach and avoidance behavioral cues.



Article credd to Sentient and especially Christina Luppi and Aaron Reid