What makes online qual more authentic than traditional methods

Profile Picture

Tom Woodnutt

Founder, Feeling Mutual

April 05, 2022

If research cannot be trusted then it is of no value. Good qualitative researchers will always focus on how to reduce the risk that participants get influenced by the way the research is designed, set-up and moderated. There are several well-known threats to the validity of qualitative research. And I believe online and mobile methods address each one and are ultimately more valid.

Criticisms of traditional qualitative research (such as focus groups) include what’s called the ‘Group Effect’ (i.e. the way what one person says in a discussion will influence what others think and say) and the ‘Researcher Effect’ (i.e. the fact that the way the researcher asks questions (and their mere presence) can influence people’s reactions. More recently ‘Behavioural Economics’ has exposed a number of biases and heuristics that humans are prone to which renders direct questioning and recall, less reliable.

This is one of the main reasons why Feeling Mutual specialises in online and mobile qualitative research. Online is more valid and therefore authentic for several reasons:

  • GET FEEDBACK IN PRIVATE: Asynchronous online qual (i.e. forums, message boards and communities) can be set up so that participants do not hear what others think (and so they can’t be influenced by them).
  • LESS MODERATOR INFLUENCE: The presence of the moderator is less influential online because it is remote. Participants are more likely to disclose their true feelings (especially those that might feel embarrassing) than they would in an artificial viewing facility setting.
  • MORE NATURAL ENVIRONMENTS: Through mobile technology participants can share feedback in their natural environments without a researcher being present. Getting feedback ‘in the moment’ reduces the reliance on erroneous memory.
  • MULTI-MEDIA ARTICULATION: Participant generated content from their real lives (e.g. through video and photography) will bring insights to life for clients more authentically than any paraphrased verbatim in Powerpoint!

If you want to find out more about how the online and mobile tools that we use, help us get more authentic and valid insights, please get in touch!

Sign up to our newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the cutting edge in online qualitative research

Your Privacy is important to us.