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Do you have the right approach to behavioral science research?

There are scientists everywhere we go. I am biased in my opinion, but I believe that behavioral scientists have one of the hardest jobs of all time. Whether our job is to predict behavior, understand behavior, or change behavior, our research sample is the PERSON and we all know how difficult people can be. 😊

At ARAC, we are constantly reviewing research published within the scientific community. Frequently we review behavioral science research that has gaps in the generation of hypotheses, actual execution or methods of the study, survey design, or even in the analytical approaches. It’s not enough to have just any behavioral scientist on your team – you should have one that understands how to design a study with both the hypothesis and analysis in mind, and they need to know the importance of the ABCs --> Affect, Behavior, and Cognition.

Here’s a glimpse of what your behavioral scientist should know when conducting your research:

  1. Affect (i.e., emotion) matters. A study participant MUST feel like “it’s okay” for them to respond honestly and openly – and that they are accepted as who they truly are. Applied in the real world it’s as simple as saying:

    1. "It’s okay if you don’t know the right answer. Just try your best."

    2. "We’ve talked to many people, and everyone has had different opinions or answers. We’re most interested in YOUR true opinion/answer/experience."

  2. Cognition (i.e., thoughts & attitude) matters. The thoughts and attitudes underlying what you see overtly in behavior is what drives the behavior a majority of the time. Understanding the positive AND negative attitudes of an object/product/policy/idea is how you will best describe, predict, or understand your target audience or consumer.

    1. Even if your object/product/policy/idea is new, your target audience will have some attitude level of it. The key is finding a creative way to measure the attitude. Let ARAC do this for you.

  3. Behavior matters, and it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. What you see is not always what you get. Some of us behave rationally, but many of us do not when our cognitive load is at capacity. We all have a certain capacity for cognition and when our cognitive load has been “tapped out” we resort to irrational behaviors.

    1. How best then to predict and understand Behavior? Incorporate the Affective and Cognitive components of the ABCs into your study.

  4. Finally, the study design should never be mutually exclusive of the statistical analysis. If you don’t fully understand how you will analyze your data (i.e., what analyses you will conduct), you don’t know what questions you will be able to answer for your business. If you don’t know what questions you’ll be able to answer, how can you successfully design a study?

    1. As owner of ARAC, I guide our teams with the knowledge and expertise as a Quantitative Social Psychologist. Our “one-stop shop” will incorporate analysis, methods, design, and purpose into one, optimizing costs and driving success for our clients.

After all of this, even if you don’t agree with me that behavioral scientists have one tough job (it’s okay if you don’t 😊), I hope we can all agree that behavioral science sure does matter!


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