Focus Group Respondent Body Language: Pay Attention To Gestures
If you’re just joining this week’s look at the importance of body language in every marketing research initiative, then you can catch up on the first two posts on this topic by clicking here to read about the importance of posture or by clicking here to check out the most common signs of nervousness to watch out for.
Gestures are perhaps the most important form of non-verbal communication that human beings use to convey their thoughts and opinions. Just as “a picture says a thousand words,” a simple gesture, properly identified and recognized in context, can convey much more than any verbal response your focus group participants may offer.
As already noted in previous posts, standing with hands on one’s hips may be a sign of readiness and covering one’s mouth when speaking is usually an indication of nervousness. Here are a few other common gestures to keep an eye out for when gathering your marketing research data.
- Open Hands or Arms -- This gesture indicates openness and receptivity, especially when the hands or arms are extended.
- Legs Crossed, Foot Kicking -- This is very often a sign of boredom or distraction whereas someone sitting with their legs apart and their feet on the floor indicates an open and relaxed demeanor.
- Hand to Cheek -- This is a thoughtful gesture and a good indication that the subject is carefully evaluating a question or response.
- Hands Clasped Behind the Head -- This gesture implies a strong sense of confidence bordering on superiority.
- Quickly Tilted Head -- This is usually used to indicate an active engagement with or interest in the subject matter at hand.
- Arms Across the Chest -- This is a defensive posture that very often indicates fear of participation or hesitancy.
These are just a few of the many common gestures that human beings make and some of their most basic interpretations. Of course, the context of every gesture must be taken into account as well to accurately determine its meaning. For instance, the final gesture above can also mean that the participant is cold … so be sure to check the thermostat before jumping to any conclusions! Different gestures can have very different meanings across cultures, so it’s important to keep the cultural traditions, behaviors and practices of your group in mind when gathering this kind of data.
Documenting non-verbal cues like those listed above is by no means a precise science but, when analyzed in conjunction with the verbal data gathered in your marketing research study, it can provide a wealth of valuable information that a simple questionnaire response doesn’t offer.
To learn more about how to accurately interpret the gestures and overall body language of your focus group respondents, click on the button below to speak with a Focus Pointe Global Pointe Person.
Check back here next week when we’ll take a look at the top qualities of a good focus group moderator. In the meantime, if you’d like this and all future Focus Pointe Global blog posts sent directly to you, simply enter your email address in the field to the right to subscribe.