Cognitive interviewing

Date of publication: June 15, 2009

Company: Nielsen

Author: Anjali Puri


In recent years there has been a growing body of evidence about the value of studying real experiences and behaviour rather than perceptions and future intentions. Among other things, this has proven useful in understanding brand loyalty and change, as well as in understanding shopper moments of truth. One of the fallouts of this is a need for research methodologies that help access real experiences accurately and in sufficient detail.Cognitive Interviewing is a memory-reconstruction technique that helps generate more powerful, vivid and textured narratives of consumer experiences with brands and categories. It helps us get past conscious memory, to access the fleeting, trivial and forgotten or omitted details which either registered subliminally, or may be too distant or too unimportant for respondents to remember, but are vital for piecing together our understanding of what was going on. Widely used as a police interrogation technique, Cognitive Interviewing was developed to enable eyewitnesses to remember minute elements of the cene of the crime. This paper discuss the theoretical underpinnings of the value of studying real memories, outline key principles and techniques used in Cognitive Interviewing, and discuss its applications with examples of how the technique has been used.

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