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Getting Emotional… How Implicit Testing Techniques Can Shine a Light on Human Emotions


November 19, 2021

As researchers we know that emotions drive human behavior. That’s why having a full arsenal of tools and methodologies geared toward better understanding emotions is imperative to research success. But how do we get to that deeper level of understanding — beyond mere liking and disliking — that captures how the products we create trigger emotions in the first place? We have to look at the emotional triggers behind emotions such as intrigue, hope, pride and relief as well as likeness if we want to design and customize products that truly deliver on customer experience. Implicit testing captures and tracks unconscious attitudes and sentiments in consumer behavior; it answers the question of “why” lingering behind consumer choice. Let’s look closer at implicit testing techniques and how shining a light on emotions can be the key to more holistic Insights throughout product development:

Building Connections: Using Emotions to Enhance R&D

In the same way that you build products and experiences based on consumers’ professed needs or likes, so too can you enhance product development with a pronounced understanding of consumer emotions. By adding in this additional element to the product development process you’ll simultaneously be focusing on an oft-overlooked aspect of the R&D process: fostering a strong and lasting connection between consumer emotions and the product itself. Not only that but, through uncovering subconscious, emotion-based cues from your target (and utilizing the right market research methods), you’ll be able to better forecast what emotions drive connection in the marketplace. Win win!

Capturing Emotions: The Right Approach

Employing a research approach to help study participants remember and recall emotions in the moment can be very effective for emotion-based product development. To do this, we use a visual metaphor approach along with InsightsNow’s Implicit/Explicit Test™ for capturing relevant implicit emotions. You can learn more by downloading this deep dive into how our emotions testing works. Image metaphors make it easier to report accurate feelings and, importantly, provide mental priming for fast recall of the emotion. After the brain is primed, it then allows rating for those fast and fleeting consumer emotions — resulting in an emotions score that can be applied to product development. This nuanced approach is the key to going beyond likeness and capturing deep emotional triggers with ease.

Going Deep: Uncovering Unconscious Triggers and Cues

Seasoned researchers know that human behavior is best captured with multiple brushstrokes — there is nothing basic about our experiences of products, nor our emotions felt in the process. In our own implicit testing process there are four distinct steps we use when attempting to authentically understand human emotion from a multifaceted perspective:

  1. First, study respondents relate their experience to a colorful, contextual image that  captures overall thoughts and feelings about the product.
  2. Then, they explain why the image is a good metaphor, answering questions like, “why does this image capture thoughts and feelings about the presented product?”
  3. The study respondent is then asked to describe the image in their own words, with as much detail as possible, followed by their own description of the image.
  4. Finally, it is time for InsightsNow Implicit/Explicit Test™ to connect emotions to the image, resulting in an implicit emotions score that drives product innovation and development decision-making.

An optional step here is gathering qualitative feedback. Collecting verbatim responses can give even greater insights into the best path forward for your product. You can see an example of how this can work in our emotions testing download here.

Feeling Your Way Through

Grasping the complexities of human emotion can feel overwhelming — both for researchers and for respondents alike. But the task at hand is a worthy one; when we truly understand the emotions behind the behavior, we can unlock a whole new level of product development and business strategy to deliver to our clients. Through the utilization of implicit testing techniques like the InsightsNow Implicit/Explicit Test™ researchers can remove the obstacles often experienced when looking deeply into human emotion and focus instead on the business impact at hand. Ready to unlock the power of human emotion in your research process? Learn more about applications of implicit testing in our new eBook.

About the Author


InsightsNow, an award-winning behavioral research firm, partners with companies across a wide array of industry verticals to accelerate marketing, branding and product development decisions for disruptive innovations achieving a cleaner, healthier world. Insights are provided via custom solutions and assisted DIY tools based on proprietary behavioral frameworks to help find answers faster, improving your speed-to and success-in market.

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