Have You Heard of Hypnosis in Qualitative Research?

For a long time, hypnosis has been called as a manipulative tool. In a lot of sciences, such as psychology primarily and medicine and forensic sciences, it has been found to be used. When we talk of this technique to be used to read the mind of a consumer for the purpose of selling him products, I wonder how ethical it can be.

There has been always a need and a void felt by marketers when we talk of reading the mind of the consumer. They have always felt the need to go further and beyond the superficial feelings and expressions of the consumers. Partly, a solution to this problem has been found in projective techniques but they also have their limitations. This is so because the projection of the feelings happens onto other objects or persons, hence there comes some degree of circumvention in the defences. With the gap that the projective techniques leave in accessing the respondents mind, hypnosis is a means to directly reach the sub conscious of the respondent.

Technically speaking, hypnosis is a state which has been induced on the person or respondent in the case of research, in an artificial way where by the conscious state becomes dormant for a while and the window to the sub conscious state opens, creating a direct and unhurdled access to the innermost feelings of the respondent.

In the state of hypnotism, because the conscious mind is not alert, the respondent is not inhibited to respond to answers that may otherwise seem too personal or probing. Sometimes dealing with personal experiences that one may feel awkward to share otherwise. Hypnosis still leaves control in the hand of the respondent as even during the process he cannot be forced to talk about things that are again his ethics and morals. A state of hypnosis gives a more genuine response as rather than recalling, the person tends to relive the moment completely.

Hypnosis has been found to have special use in market research that deals with sale and purchase of mundane and routinized products such as grocery and other fast moving consumer goods. A person, who is under the state of hypnosis, does not get distracted by the external stimuli as he is oblivious to them. Even long time consuming processes do not bring down the output of the research. If taken positively and also administered fairly, it can be of benefit to the researcher as well as the respondent as it can help them to understand their own thought process better and comprehend their behaviour and responses in a wider arena.

What is essential to remember and follow in hypnosis, is that the researcher should have the required appropriate training to administer hypnosis on any person and also should not go beyond the ethics to exploit the vulnerability of the respondent in the state of hypnosis. The values of the respondent should be respected, whether they be conservative.

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