Probing the Subconscious Mind
in Focus Groups or Depth Interviews

In the subconscious mind, emotions, beliefs, perceptions, and cultural conditioning linger. They influence buying behavior.

Your job as a moderator is to dive in and pull up memories, emotions, feelings, cultural perceptions, and beliefs. You bring them to the surface, like a deep-sea diver hunting for treasure.

The Mind

Psychoanalysts believe minds are conscious and subconscious. Several theories abound and there is much debate about the topic.

The conscious mind is aware and rational. It learns. It weighs facts and solves problems. It is cognitive. Awareness and rational thinking govern the conscious mind.

The subconscious is semi-conscious,or unaware and automatic. Psychoanalysts believe the subconscious stores deeply held beliefs, emotions, and long-term memories. The subconscious mind also regulates physiology, such as heartbeat and breathing.

Influence on the Conscious Mind?

Some psychoanalysts theorize the subconscious heavily influences the conscious mind. It influences rational thinking with deeply held beliefs, emotions, and memories molded by life’s experiences.

The subconscious affects perception.

Stimuli can call up stored information from the subconscious. Stimuli triggers stored memory, feelings, and beliefs.

You may not be aware of the memories embedded in your subconscious until stimuli awaken them and serve them up into the conscious mind.

A change in your circumstances, wants, needs, or problems triggers buried memories, and stirs subconscious feelings, unearths core beliefs, and reveals cultural conditioning.

Probing the Subconscious

Laddering and projective techniques are ways to dig into the subconscious.

In laddering, the moderator tries to draw out emotional benefits arising from product features.

Using basic projective techniques - picture associations, word associations, metaphor exercises, drawing - the moderator surfaces emotions, beliefs, perceptions, and cultural conditioning.

Read the articles about laddering, and projective techniques. and buying theory.

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