Qualitative A.I. and the Subconscious
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One of the core goals of strategic insights is to understand behaviors and attitude at a deep enough level to predict and influence them. To get there, the naïve method – asking participants why they feel and behave the way they do, will only get us so far due to quasi-universal biases and personal blind spots.


It is well documented that 95% of decisions are made subconsciously, filtered through associations we may not even be aware of. As humans, we post-rationalize our behavior, convincing ourselves we are rational agents in control of our actions. But the truth is, the mind is an iceberg, with most of it hiding in murky waters. So if we want the full picture, it is imperative that we assess full picture of both conscious and subconscious responses.


A highly skilled and experienced strategist will have gathered enough experience, intuition, and projective techniques (indirect, metaphorical lines of questioning that can be highly revealing if used well – e.g. “what animal would this car brand be?”) to read between the lines and take an informed guess as to what isn’t being said, but this remains a highly delicate, subjective craft as it still involves inferring subconscious feelings from explicit answers.[1]


Until recently, “neuromarketing” (measurement of physiological signals e.g. pupil dilation, heartbeat, MRI) seemed like the most promising way to access the subconscious[2]. While the expensive machinery, time-consuming processes, and limitation to laboratory settings have kept the discipline from fully breaking into the mainstream, some of the results did find their way into the training data of modern A.I.. This has provided a ground layer of biological certainty when assessing subconscious indicators. Measurement and analysis of voice tone, facial expressions, semantics and much more now provide a wealth of previously elusive or even inaccessible responses. Furthermore, these indicators remain less susceptible to bias through masking from participants or varied interpretation from moderators pulling on their own experiences. Highly accurate and repeatable results add weight to recommendations and stories that relied entirely on the researcher’s reputation.


If you are ready to include the subconscious in your insights journey, talk to Sidi today to find out how.


[1] Of course psychologists are adept at doing exactly this, but if you know one able to reliably get to subconscious purchase drivers in a single 1h interview interview on Zoom in a professional setting, please contact us immediately.
[2] https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/the-subconscious-mind-of-the-consumer-and-how-to-reach-it

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