The Truth is Out There: Evaluating which 'new' implicit research methods offer improved insights

Tom Vannozzi, Andy Lack, Luke Mantell, Julie Knox


In recent years new thinking from psychology has laid down a challenge to market research practitioners. Twenty years or so ago, what is now thought of as the 'Old World' view in psychology was that the human brain was a rational machine, primarily making decisions based on facts, with emotions only having a limited impact. Market researchers were quite comfortable with this view as we tend to have rational research approaches which explored rational choices. This is especially true in quantitative research where we are expecting for the most part that our respondents can give us rational reasons for why they have made or expect to make a decision.

But this is no longer good enough. The 'New World' view of the psychologist now has empirical evidence that much of our human decision-making is quite irrational. Neuroscientists have also shown us how important our emotions are in driving our behaviour. This 'New World' view has been popularised into the mainstream, helped by influential thinkers from across the fields of psychology and economics such as Daniel Kahneman, Richard Thaler, Stephen J. Dubner, Steven Levitt and Dan Areily, to name but a few. Their success in showing empirically how much of our decision-making is automatic with little or no conscious thought, mediated by heuristics or mental short cuts, has been gaining currency in the commercial world of advertising and marketing for some time. This purpose of the paper is not to discuss whether this 'New World' view of human decision-making is right or wrong. The challenge we want to look at is this: