Projective Interviewing

What is Projective Interviewing?

Projective interviewing consists of a set of techniques designed to develop a deeper understanding of underlying consumer motivations. These techniques, developed in the field of clinical psychology, allow participants to ‘project’ their own thoughts onto someone or something other than themselves.

Projective techniques use verbal or visual stimuli which, through their indirection and concealed intent, encourage respondents to reveal their unconscious feelings and attitudes without being aware that they are doing so.

When Would I Use Projective Interviewing?

For most categories, part of the purchase process is “hidden” or sub-conscious. For example – marketers believe that their Brand plays an important role in consumer decision making, yet most consumers claim that they are “too smart” to be overly influenced by a brand name – they over-rationalize their decision process when asked directly about it. But projective interviewing techniques help ferret out the image attributes and psychological benefits that a particular brand plays.

Benefits of Projective Interviewing

A key benefit of Projective Interviewing is that it overcomes the clinical nature of focus groups and interviews by building a bridge to past experiences. Specifically, it allows participants to access and report feelings and motivations that may not surface using more rational question and answer interviewing techniques. It can also be used to stimulate non-linear or lateral thinking in order to elicit new ideas.

Projective Interviewing Techniques

Some commonly used projective interviewing techniques include:

  • Collages – Participants are asked to draw or clip images from magazines that they associate with a brand or product. Each participant then uses the drawings/images to build a collage.
  • Role Playing – Participants are asked to play the role of someone else.
  • Sentence Completion – Participants are given incomplete sentences and asked to complete them.
  • Laddering – An in-depth interview which begins with questions about external topics (social trends, etc.) and then proceeds (or “ladders”) to questions about internal attitudes and feelings.

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