Back to Basics: Research Cues from Freud

At the QRCA International Conference in Vienna, I attended many presentations; everything from semiotics to behavioral economics. The most apropos session was about Freud’s influence on how we do research.

FreudCouch_withcreditcaptionThe Sigmund Freud Museum created an online exhibition on Freud’s life to commemorate his 160th birthday

According to Peter Tolman from Jigsaw Research, Freud influenced three areas of our research methods:

  • TALK – We allow people to speak unstructured (open, rambling), we use projective questioning that allows people to project feelings onto others and we show interest, not judgement.
  • LISTEN – We observe how people talk (repetitions, hesitations, slips) and are on alert for defensiveness, projection, repression, denial and rationalization.
  • THINK – People are not transparent to themselves. We listen, revisit the date of research and then pour over it for clues; we interpret the data for insights. We “make the unconscious, conscious.”

Freud reminds us to go “back to the basics” when doing research. Let’s remember to “deeply listen” and  follow the clues our respondents leave for us.

These will lead us to a true understanding of their preferences, desires and opinions.


And what would a conference be without a little fun?




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