A RESPONDENT'S POSITION on an issue may be a reflection of his seating position at the table, or the converse may be true. In every group, people choose roles in relation to the other members of the group and the designated leader. Seating choices often are a function of those interactions. In a classroom, for example, the "teacher's pet" sits close to the teacher while the troublemakers often choose the back of the room.
Once upon a time, in a far off pond in India, lived a colony of stubby, plain looking larvae. A legend handed down from generation to generation promised that at the age of chrysalis, each little larvae would break through the surface of the pond and suddenly emerge as a magnificent fully formed dragon fly. (The rumor had apparently been started by a frog who had witnessed the transformation.) At one stage in development, each larvae went on retreat at the top of the pond where no one could see or contact him. It was after this hibernation that the transforming spell was supposedly cast. There were a few skeptics. They pointed out that no one could see or hear clearly through the ripples and currents of the water. Images were distorted. These few wise members of the community contested the notion that a simple larvae could undergo an instantaneous metamorphosis into a dramatic dragon fly with a slender body and iridescent wings. While unknown, some measurable phenomenon must have occurred. Still, no one knew what actually happened at the top of the pond and no larvae ever returned to confirm or dispel the legend. So the magical tale was religiously passed along from one to another with no comprehension of what changes might have actually or logically taken place.
By Pete DePaulo and Sharon Livingston
Qualitative research is especially well suited to discovering something creative, such as a new name or positioning for a product. One focus group technique that helps uncover the best new ideas is, paradoxically, to ask respondents for bad ideas – the worst ones that come to mind.