I’m loving facial coding in Qual

I’ve just discovered something really exciting: FACIAL RECOGNITION software for QUALITATIVE. It has just been introduced this week. It’s being demo’d at CASRO in Chicago next week (I’m going — anyone else?).

This takes “dial” technology that I’ve used for years to a new level … it recognizes the “microbursts” of emotion that people exhibit unknowingly and translates it into reports like what we’ve gotten from dial technology. But it does it without the respondent having to cognitively turn a dial and interrupt thought processes, and perhaps self-censor while doing so. It’s a wonderful technique for probing responses and in the aggregate can provide a meaningful, visual reporting tool.

At the present time, this capability is available for use in facilities only; it being perfected for use online. They claim it’s best for IDIs. I think it would be terrific for the 20-minute IDIs we do when we explore reactions to advertising.

I’d love to talk to you more about how we can possibly apply this to one of your projects.


I like to unearth surprise findings through the research I conduct. I don’t like respondents who are a surprise.

That is why I learned over 30 years ago to screen, screen, and rescreen. I’ve found that respondents may hear a screener question over the phone and answer it one way. Then they reconsider their response after the end of the phone call and come up with a different answer. It’s generally not malicious or intentional. In fact, people often volunteer these changes in an effort to be even more helpful.

That’s why I always insist respondents fill in a self-administered written rescreener when they arrive at the facility. Visual processors, most people see things differently in print than they may have heard during a telephone recruit.

It’s far better knowing before I walk into that group room whether there’s any issue with the recruit than to discover it in the middle of the session. Who wants to lose the flow of the group or the trust you’ve gained and attempt to course correct? Proper planning allows for better communication with clients and more productive research.


The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.

Madeline L’Engle, Author A Wrinkle in Time

This is why I believe kids’ toys and games work so well as stimuli when talking with adults. One of my favorites? A brand new box of crayons. Regardless of age or gender, a smile spreads across the face of even the most reserved respondent upon opening that box of 64 perfectly-pointy, rainbow-hued Crayolas. Even the smell is evocative. People relax, are ready to play along, and to unleash imagination with the instruction to “pick a crayon that somehow relates to your thoughts or feelings about …”

A rich, multi-dimensional dialogue almost always ensues where there otherwise may have been a one-line response. I love this as a quick opening or change of pace exercise that immediately gets down a number of layers.