Defining and Measuring System 1 Processing in Consumer Behavior Research

Alena Jule
Marketing Associate, Sentient Decision Science

There has been a lot of talk in the industry about measuring System 1 processing, and what truly constitutes an implicit research technique. Insights professionals who are eager to apply the best practices in consumer subconscious research are keenly focused on identifying techniques that unquestionably measure implicit associations.

Because the application of behavioral science is still in the early adoption phase in market research there has been some confusion in what constitutes implicit versus explicit research.

Where do we draw the line? Fortunately, there we have twenty years of research on implicit measurement that has provided clear criteria for evaluating research techniques as implicit or not.

Watch Dr. Aaron Reid, in this video from the Insight Innovation Exchange (IIeX), as he defines what implicit research really is and why it matters for market research.

TRANSCRIPT:

>>Dr. Reid:

In order to get at the “can’t say/won’t say,” we need true implicit research techniques. We call this protecting business by protecting the science. You could also say something like, “show me the science, and we’ll show you the money.”

And we’re going to do that today. We’re going to show you the science, and then we’re going to show you the money.

So we want to define what implicit research technology is, and what an implicit research technique is. Because there are kind of floating definitions out there.

I would like to offer this one. Implicit research technology is a specialized set of indirect research tools that can reveal System 1 processing by measuring unintentional and uncontrollable responses to stimuli.

And we didn’t just make this up, this is based on the literature; based on Nosek et. al, 2011. And they define implicit research techniques as those that must not be direct, deliberate, controllable self-assessments.

So when we look at these and evaluate different research techniques, we’re going to evaluate them according to those three criteria. Is it indirect? Is it deliberate and a controllable self-assessment?

And what you’ll find with a lot of explicit techniques that are parading as implicit techniques is that they are indirect, but that they are deliberate and also controllable. So “indirect” does not equal implicit. “Derived” does not equal implicit. Reaction time, by itself, does not equal implicit.

There are other conditions that you have to meet in order for a research technique to truly be implicit. Here are some examples of some implicit research techniques [references slide].

Now we define it more broadly. a lot of people call biometrics and neurometrics under the heading of neuromarketing. And as I said yesterday, I’d like to get rid of that term, because there is no other kind of marketing than neuromarketing. It is all neurologically processed.

I’d like to think of these as implicit research techniques. They meet the criteria: they’re indirect, they’re not deliberate, they are uncontrollable.

And today, we’re going to focus on “implicit association techniques.” Implicit research technology is the broader category, and implicit association is a sub-category of implicit methods.

Each of these, we have in our consumer subconscious lab. In that lab, we do research on research, to validate it. And anything we bring to market is validated according to its enhancement of predictive validity.

If we put something into our software, it has to meet the criteria of enhancing predictive validity. It’s got to add something, of a predictive nature, to the tools that are in the market place.

And the five case studies that you’re going to see today are all research on research, from our lab, improving the predictive validity of these implicit methods.

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