Avoid interviewer bias

“You can’t just ask the right questions. You have to HEAR the  right answers.”

Professional market research is less developed in Cambodia than in most Western and larger Asian advanced countries. It has really only been about 20-25 years that professional, more sophisticated marketing and research techniques have been being used. For comparison, in the United States leading research firms have been operating for almost 100 years, e.g. Nielsen Research (1923), Gallup Research (1935). Accordingly, the local Cambodian researcher talent pool, while highly motivated and improving, is smaller and less experienced.

And that brings us to a Cambodian market research “trap”.

Interviewer/moderator bias!

The potential for this “bias” can be found in all data collection methodologies, from quantitative (e.g. long form personal interviews) to qualitative efforts (e.g. focus groups, etc.).

It can take many forms. Among them:

  1. Interviewers/moderators can “guide” the discussion or slant respondents’ answers in order to generate feedback they (the researcher) feels is in line with what the client is expecting or hoping for. While not blatantly unethical, this can be affected by Asians’ general tendency to being polite or accommodating.
  2. Researchers may unintentionally intimidate participants by their actions, body language or even clothing. Cambodian people sometimes are not comfortable “speaking from the heart”. They try to give the researcher only the feedback they think he wants. For example, one time an interviewer was wearing a shirt with the client logo on it. This can accidently “signal” to a sensitive participant just what answers or feedback are most appropriate.
  3. Sometimes the “bias” is self-inflicted by the interviewer or moderator not clearly understanding the questions and what information the client is attempting to get. If the person asking the questions doesn’t understand them, the person answering them surely won’t.

At MRTS Consulting we avoid bias by first understanding clearly what information our clients are trying to get and how they are going to use it. We then a) translate that into a specific data collection plan, b) train our interviewers/moderators how to use it and then c) supervise our team’s conduct throughout the project fieldwork, immediately correcting any biases if observed.

Need help for Market Research in Cambodia? Contact us now: vuthy@mrtsconsulting.com

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