Key Strategies to Mitigate Influence of Cognitive Bias in Research Reports

2018-04-19 | FMI | Healthcare

The market research industry is not immune to the subtle and nuanced impact of cognitive biases. Owing to the nature of the industry, a pragmatic and unbiased approach to research is of paramount importance. A subconscious tendency to act on the basis of preconceived notions can alter the findings of a research report, which in turn can have a massive impact on the decision-making process.

Compiling data and insights on the basis of preconceived notions can reflect conflicting and inaccurate insights in the reports. Therefore, it is important that market researchers adopt an objective and mindful approach while executing their craft. In order to minimize the impact of cognitive bias, major market research companies are taking initiatives to educate their employees about the impact of preconceived notions on the research outcomes.


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As cognitive biases can skew the outcomes and insight incorporated in the market research report, leading companies are focusing on incorporating advanced technological solutions such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) to ensure accuracy. Besides technological solutions, market research companies are also encouraging group coordination, critical analysis of compiled insights, mindfulness, and extensive research to warrant quality. Here’s a list of top 3 techniques/strategies that market research companies can employ to mitigate the influence of cognitive biases.

  • Diversify Your Research

While collecting and analyzing information, researchers inadvertently tend to include their perceptions and preconceived notions into the reports. As research analysts tend to feel confident about their preconceived notions, they incorporate their perceptions rather than exploring more alternatives and information. In order to tackle such cognitive biases, leading firms are training their analysts to disregard their perceptions they are confident of. This will encourage the researchers and analysts to explore more options and help in enriching their report with accurate insights.

  • Practicing Mindfulness:

Unconscious biases among the research analysts can skew the objective of the research report. A popular technique known as mindfulness has been identified by a flurry of recent studies to help companies and individuals in tackling cognitive biases. In essence, mindfulness is the practice of becoming more conscious of our thoughts, surroundings, and emotions along with a sense of non-judgment and acceptance. Companies need to educate the research analysts about being mindful and train them to pay attention to details of the collected information rather than forming perceptions and implementing them in the report. Practicing mindfulness will encourage the research analysts to invest more time in research and outline diverse aspects of the report. While Google has been a flag-bearer of introducing mindfulness at workplace through its massively popular “Search Inside Yourself: Mindfulness Based Emotional Intelligence,” the likes of Apple, P&G, and McKinsey & Co. have followed suit.

  • Conducting Joint Evaluations:

While evaluating information and options at an individual level, research analysts can miss out on loopholes such as inaccurate information and logical incoherency. In addition, researchers may not be able to identify insights that were included on the basis of nuanced cognitive biases rather than pragmatic analytical rigor. Practicing joint evaluation can help researchers in compiling insights and statistics after considering relevant facts that the research analysts can miss out at an individual level.

Although cognitive biases have received a bad rep in the recent past, it is also important to remember that not only cognitive biases are disadvantageous. The halo effect, self-serving bias, and attentional bias – common forms of cognitive biases can be advantageous if used mindfully. Cognitive bias is not bad per se, but it is how we interpret it and act that makes the difference.