Let Data Be A Little Emotional.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind, when you think about “research?”

Maybe it’s searching for information on the internet, on-line surveys and focused group interviews, etc.

In the world of conscious, rational thinking and reasoning, it all make sense to ask people directly what they want or how they react and behave, in order to gather a large amount of data in a short time in order to inform consumer insights.

While new technology enables data mining to reveal behavioral patterns, traditional qualitative research has not changed for decades. Those approaches could very well respond to what a user thinks and does, but few design practices grapple with how a user feels.

Matter-Mind Studio

After all, emotion is something most companies do not know how to put their hands on. “You know, they are just, just too fuzzy,” said a CEO we chatted with. It is difficult, because emotions by definition are much harder to quantify, or even to understand. But it would be almost impossible to unpack the emotional layers behind people’s behaviors with the same set of traditional research tools which are designed for the purpose of getting immediate and quick answers from the target group. That’s because there’s really no short answers for the complex emotions we all experience.

We believe that to change behavior, one has to understand behavior. And in order to achieve that, one has to get beyond what people say they think and do, into understanding how they actually are feeling. And within this blind spot of design lie rich opportunities.

At Matter-Mind Studio, we discover underlying causes of people’s choices and behaviors through tailored emotion-centered methodologies. They often manifest themselves in the form of objects, conversations, collages, maps, play and so on.

Although it is not to say that traditional research methods are completely out-dated, we do find three unique benefits of using emotion-centered methodologies.

1. Avoid inaccurate sources of insight.

Taking the example of focus-group interviews, the more dominant individuals within a group of respondents are likely to influence others responses and can lead to research conclusions that may sound logical, but those results often don’t accurately reflect how consumers are really feeling. And thus the research would turn into a missed opportunity.

2. Enable participants to open up through engaging experience.

People who have participated in our research projects are often surprised by the small, focused “challenges” we ask them to engage with and they enjoy this creation experience. Even as the research topic slowly evolves, they remain very curious about our findings in the end because of this initial engaging experience.

3. Convey essential brand messages.

From a branding standpoint, emotion-centered research methodology transforms what would be a banal Q&A session into a collaborative discovery journey. We give participants the appropriate space to understand, interpret, appreciate, and take ownership of what’s in front of them.

Thank you for your time and attention. Stay tuned to more emotion-centered projects at Matter-Mind Studio!