Accompanying Script for Implicit Emotional Assessment Presentation Presentation
IMPLICIT EMOTIONAL ASSESSMENT SCRIPT
Thank you, Mike. And thanks to the QRCA for giving me the opportunity talk about Implicit Emotional
Assessment, what I obviously think is a very important topic. Also, thanks to all of the listeners for your
1 time today. I hope you'll find this presentation interesting, if not valuable, to your marketing or
marketing research efforts. I DO know that your time is valuable, so let’s get going.
Before we get into it...
I need everybody – whatever you are doing – to STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN to what might be around you
2 there in your room. Look around a little. Listen closely. What do you see? Do you hear anything?
I think if that if you look and listen very closely, you might sense…
An 800 pound gorilla in your room. I think it’s there in most of our rooms. And it’s made up of two
primary components. First is something I think most of us, if not all of us, would agree with.
People – research respondents for the sake of this presentation – often either can’t or won’t tell the truth
about how they’re feeling. Does anyone believe that people are completely in touch with how they feel,
and are willing to share it? I don’t think so.
However – and here comes the 800 pound gorilla…
How often in our research do we accept what people say explicitly at face value? Think about it. We
average and directly report consumers’ ratings from attitude batteries and purchase interest questions.
3 We tabulate and evaluate consumers’ words from open-ended questions. We quote and interpret what
consumers’ say verbatim.
Now I’m not saying this is always wrong, but to the extent that we also agree that people often can’t or
won’t tell the truth about how they’re feeling, we have an 800 pound gorilla in the room.
To expose the gorilla, and to help bring this “hidden information” to the surface (especially emotional
information), what I'm calling implicit techniques can be very useful.
So let me start to introduce implicit techniques by telling you about what I think is…
A very compelling study.
This study was conducted by a trio of social psychology researchers, Winkielman, Berridge, and
Willbarger. (By the way, at the end of this presentation I have a slide that contains all of the references
I’ll be using in the presentation.)
4 Now the purpose of this study was to show how emotions can impact consumer behavior in a very special
way, as we will see.
The researchers first randomly assigned respondents to two treatment groups so that they were
essentially equal for important characteristics.
The researchers exposed the respondents in each group to something a little different. For now, I’ll keep
that a mystery, as the question marks indicate, but stay tuned for further explanation.
5 After they were exposed to “this something different,” they engaged in what they were told was the
primary task for the study.
Respondents in each group were asked to perform a gender recognition task. In this task, they were
shown a series of pictures of males and females with emotionally neutral facial expressions. Their task
6 was to see how quickly they could identify the gender of the person in each photograph.
Now after this task…
The respondents were asked to rate how they were explicitly feeling across a series of emotions.
The results were that the groups were equal in terms of how they were explicitly feeling. Group 1 did not
7 explicitly feel any differently than Group 2 and vice versa.
Continuing with the study…
Respondents were asked how much they would pay for a particular beverage, the same beverage for
Interestingly, the researchers found that Group 1 said they would pay significantly more for the beverage
8 than Group 2.
So…how could this be if they really didn’t sense feeling any differently and if they were equated on all
Well, the driving factor was in what each group was exposed to before the Gender Recognition Task.
To activate different emotional states, the researchers subliminally – that is below the respondents’ levels
of awareness – showed Group 1 happy faces and Group 2 angry faces.
What difference did that make? Well, it confirmed a great deal of research saying that, all else equal, we
evaluate products more favorably when we are in a good mood vs. when we are in a bad mood.
9 More importantly, and toward the purpose of this presentation, it demonstrated that emotions below
one’s awareness can impact their behavior. Remember, both groups explicitly rated their feelings
equally. Group 1 wasn’t aware that they were in a better mood than Group 2, yet their behavior was
affected by it.
So what’s important about this study that speaks to today’s presentation?
Well, the REASON for the results of this study…
The Why speaks to the three main points I want to make today.
First, I want to impress upon you, if you don’t already believe this, that emotions drive our behavior,
including our behavior as consumers. And because of this, we SHOULD study them more than we do.
Second, people often can’t or won’t explicitly report how they are feeling.
Winkielman and his colleagues showed that sometimes people CAN’T tell you how they’re feeling. And
because we so often accept what people say at face value, we have that 800 pound gorilla in our rooms.
10 So to address this problem, my third point is that implicit research techniques can be used to help
marketers see these “hidden” emotions – those that people can’t or won’t tell us about – and USE this
information to improve strategies and tactics.
So let’s start addressing these three Agenda Objectives.
First, it’s important that I quickly define a couple of terms.
When I say explicit information, I'm referring to several aspects of the information we obtain from
11 respondents in research.
Explicit information is that which is obtained more from direct questions. Furthermore, it’s information
that comes from respondents consciously reflecting on their answers and, in so doing, produces more
rational and often defended, information.
To contrast explicit information…
Implicit information is that which is obtained more from indirect or misdirected questions. It’s
information that sometimes comes from respondents unconsciously or automatically. With reflection out
of the picture, the information is often non-rational in that it doesn’t proceed through the thinking
process. Furthermore, circumventing the filtering that comes from reflection, implicit information is less
12 defended or entirely un-defended.
It’s this information that we’re seeking in the techniques we’ll be discussing today.
This brings us to the first MAIN agenda point I want to make.
Let me just put it out there with this bold statement:
“Emotions and feelings drive our behavior. They tell us what to do.”
13 Now this is a true statement that has been confirmed in the past 5 to 10 years primarily through research
in neuroscience and psychology. Marketers are finally starting to realize this, which is nicely summed up
This quote from Kevin Roberts.
“We now accept that human beings are powered by emotion, not by reason. Emotion and reason are
intertwined, but when they are in conflict, emotion wins every time. [Emotion] controls our
rationality, our decision making.”
Now when I make the strong statement that emotions and feelings tell us what to do, I get a lot of push
back. I would guess that some of you listening today might not be totally convinced of this, perhaps
14 thinking of times when you think that your decisions and behavior were entirely rational or non-
Now I can understand this. But to address it, let me tell you a story about a conversation I recently had
with a CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
I call this story, the CEO and his car.
Recently I was talking to a CEO and I made my bold statement that “emotions primarily, if not
exclusively, drive our behavior.”
Now he gave me that look of disbelief, kind of like you see here. And it was obvious that he was ready to
dispute this with a story from his own experience. It was the story of a car that he had just purchased.
He made the point that being who he was financially, he could afford almost any car he wanted. And in
15 that he implied that he could purchase an “emotional car” – a Porsche, a Mercedes, maybe even a Ferrari,
who knows. But no. He pointed out that he purchased a Honda Civic. And related to that purchase, and
to my point about emotions, he said…
“My decision was based on practical, family considerations. Emotion didn’t enter into it.”
Now I tried very hard to not smile sarcastically, but I hope you can see one major flaw in his argument.
Was he really saying that “family considerations” did not involve any emotion? Unless he is one cold,
detached person – and I mean this literally, neurologically detached in his brain – as you'll see in a
moment – family considerations are very emotional.
So I’m sure some type of emotion led him to choose the Honda Civic over a “more emotional” car.
In this story lie three emotion myths that I would like to expose.
When people say that their decisions and behavior are not emotional, they first might be thinking that
emotions are only overt, conscious expressions. That is, unless we are showing and feeling an emotional
reaction, then we must not be experiencing emotion.
They might be thinking that only certain emotions warrant being called emotional – emotions that are
more intense like being extremely excited, or very angry, or deeply depressed. They might not be
thinking that less extreme feelings like calmness, security, or groundedness are really emotional states,
too. In fact, they might consider these feelings quite rational.
Another myth that is exposed here, and one that neuroscience has soundly disproved, is that…
Emotions are mutually exclusive from reason. Either a decision was rational and reasoned or it was
emotional. Many people, even academics who write on the subject, seem to want to divorce reason and
To address these myths, I’d like to point out…
Two important truths about the nature of emotions.
First, neuroscientists…people who study the brain…confirm that emotion and reason are naturally
“neuro-connected” in our brains. Unless people have been physiologically damaged in some way, nerves
in our brains naturally connect reasoning and emotional processes. Reason and emotion are different
processes, but they always occur together. We don’t have a “thought,” a “reasoning,” without also
having an emotion attached to it. In this way, there is really no such thing as a truly rational thought.
16 So another truth about emotions then…related to reasoning…is that emotions serve to add value to our
reasoned options and decisions. When we are faced with a decision, we reason through various
behavioral options. For instance, should I buy the Porsche or the Honda Civic? What makes us choose
one reasoned behavioral option over another? Emotions do. They provide a certain energy or value that
says, if you do THIS THING, you'll feel better than if you do this OTHER THING.
And that’s a very fundamental, but true, explanation of how emotions tell us what to do.
Here are a couple of quotes from experts about these points:
First, Franzen and Bouwman, a couple of marketers well-schooled in neuroscience, say…
17 “Our perceptions and memories are constantly linked to emotional reactions. Thoughts are never free
from emotions and emotions are never free from thoughts.”
Furthermore, in what has become my favorite quote on this topic…
O’Shaughnessy and O’Shaughnessy say…
“Emotion is not an aberrant element when making buying decisions, but a necessary condition if
18 decisions are not to be continually postponed.”
This is so powerful because it makes the point that emotions are NECESSARY for consumer decision
making. I’m sorry Mr. CEO, but we can’t make, and we don’t make, consumer decisions without
All right. Let’s assume we’re all on board with the importance of emotions.
To continue with my Agenda Objectives, I need to point out…
Two important aspects of emotions that get us to the value of implicitly assessing them.
First, it’s true that emotions are largely unconscious. The fact is we are NOT consciously aware of a very
large part of what’s going on with our emotions. We simply don’t feel them, but, as Winkielman and his
colleagues showed, they ARE operating.
This is the “can’t tell us” part of our story. People often can’t tell us how they’re feeling because they’re
unaware of how they’re feeling.
Second, emotions are often guarded experiences. We are often socialized to not express our emotions.
19 An interesting quote that reflects this comes from an Oscar Wilde book A Woman of No Importance.
Now I’m probably taking this out of context, but someone in the book says…
“The secret of life is to never to have an emotion that is unbecoming.”
I think this fits a cultural value that many of us have. And this represents the “won’t tell us” part of our
story. People often won’t tell us how they’re feeling because, for some reason, it’s socially, culturally
So these two important aspects of emotions, present…
A problem for traditional market research techniques. The problem is, as we introduced earlier as part of
the 800 pound gorilla, traditional market research techniques – direct questions in focus groups, online
surveys, telephone interviews, etc. – often accept what people explicitly say.
Now I said this earlier, it isn’t 100% bad to accept what people explicitly say because there is obviously
20 some truth in what people explicitly say. People can be and are in touch with, and willing to tell us, the
feelings that are driving their behavior.
But often they are not.
For those times, we need a…
Solution. And the solution I want to tell you about is what I call implicit techniques. Implicit techniques
are those that can assess what people can’t or won’t tell us about how they’re feeling. They assess
21 implicit information – again, information that is unconscious, or automatic, or undefended, or
unrationalized, yet still influential in driving our decisions and behavior.
So let me tell you more about…
Implicit Techniques. There are many implicit techniques out there. And I don’t have time to discuss them
all. But let me share with you a pretty good list.
And they come from various disciplines.
From psychotherapy come projectives, hypnosis-interviewing, psychodrama, and a family of techniques
22 that can be referred to as linguistic or metaphorical.
From social or cognitive psychology comes a group of techniques that I collectively call implicit association
And from psychophysiology comes a group of techniques that assess emotion through various bodily
indications – either in the face, the brain, the heart, the skin, the eyes, the voice, or the breath, just to
name the most common.
Again, I don’t have enough time to discuss each of these. However, all is not lost. I’d like to proceed by
sharing with you…
Research case studies that utilized three of these techniques – implicit association or misattribution,
hypnosis-interviewing, and psychodrama.
23 In these case studies, I hope to show you how using these implicit techniques allowed us to benefit
informationally beyond what we obtained from explicit information that was also part of each of these
The first of these case studies comes from an Implicit Association or Misattribution Study that used a
priming technique. The picture you see here represents how the technique was conducted, and I’ll return
24 to that shortly.
But first, let me tell you what the study was all about.
The purpose of the study was to uncover the emotional profiles of two battery brands. The brands that
you see here are not the brands that were involved in the study. Those remain confidential.
By emotional profiles, I mean quantitative indications of how people felt across a series of 20 emotions
when they considered these brands.
Now in this study we collected explicit emotional data by simply asking people to rate the degree to
which they felt each of the 20 emotions when they saw a representation of the brand.
25 In addition to this explicit emotional rating information, we also collected implicit emotional information.
In other words, we wanted to see how people felt either automatically or unconsciously about the brands
without being asked to directly reflect upon their feelings toward them.
As you'll see, the procedure was similar to that used in the Winkielman beverage study presented earlier.
To assess implicit emotions we used…
…a priming technique, which is depicted here. Essentially, priming techniques work by exposing
respondents to a targeted object – in this case a battery brand – and then misdirecting them to an
unrelated task. The unrelated task in this study was for people to indicate whether they thought an
ambiguous symbol meant a particular feeling word.
26 These implicit priming techniques work because the prime – in this case the battery representation –
activates emotional associations that exist within a person which then disproportionately “leak” onto
responses to the misdirected task. For example, if a person felt implicitly confident toward the brand,
then he or she would be more likely to say the symbol meant confident after being primed with the brand
OK. So that’s a very brief description of how we did it. Now let me show you some interesting results.
In this slide I’ll be comparing key explicit and implicit results from this study for four of the emotions in
the profile because they presented us the most interesting areas to explore further.
On one side, I plot the explicit results for these four emotions and on the other side I plot the implicit
results for the same emotions. Furthermore, to make things a little simpler visually, I’ve plotted the
27 difference between Brand 2 and Brand 1 in the dependent measures. So the bars that you'll see
essentially represent Brand 2’s results.
First, notice that Brand 2 was preferred by these respondents. Brand 2 was chosen by more people as
their gift for participating in the study.
Regarding the explicit results, notice that for 3 of these 4 emotions – playful, disgusted, and worried –
explicit feelings toward the two brands were equal. For these feelings, there was no difference in how
people explicitly rated their feelings for the two brands. Also notice, interestingly, that Brand 2 evoked
more explicit skepticism than Brand 1, which runs a little counter to the fact that Brand 2 was chosen
Looking at the implicit results – again, looking at the difference between Brand 2 and Brand 1 – we saw
that Brand 2 carried more implicit playfulness than Brand 1, and less disgust, worry, and skepticism.
These are very interesting results. First, we can see differences in what people were feeling explicitly and
implicitly toward the brands. Second, we can see that the implicit feelings were more consistent with the
fact that Brand 2 was chosen more often than Brand 1.
So what’s the point? What is the…
Benefit of this research. Think what you might have concluded had you only had the explicit emotional
ratings. You might have been stuck in your tracks, if not confused by the skepticism for Brand 2. But the
implicit ratings made visible emotions to explore further – in particular, playfulness for Brand 2.
28 All right. So much for implicit association using the priming technique.
Let’s move on to the second case study, which involves…
Hypnosis-interviewing. In a minute I'm going to tell you a little more about hypnosis, but for now let’s
just say it’s nothing dangerous or overly controlling. It’s a technique that involves relaxed, focused
29 awareness. I’ll get back to that in just a minute.
First let me tell you about the study.
The study was conducted to help a resort community emotionally develop some new land that they had
recently purchased. By emotionally develop I mean to do things with the land that were consistent with
how people wanted to feel by owning property there.
30 Like in the previous study, in this study we collected explicit information primarily from telephone
But then, to follow up that information and go deeper emotionally, we recruited a sample of respondents
from the telephone interviews to participate in a series of individual interviews during which we
conversed with them while they were in hypnotic states of mind.
So what do I mean by hypnosis, and how does hypnosis help us reveal emotional information that people
can’t or won’t otherwise tell us?
First, hypnosis is essentially a focused awareness that puts people in a relaxed, non-analytical state of
mind. In this state of mind, processing largely bypasses the analytical part of the brain so that reactions
31 come more directly from emotional, intuitive processes.
Second, people in this state of mind, at least in OUR interviews, are fully conscious and in control, but,
having their analytical processing turned off to some degree…
They provide much more emotional, less rationalized, and less defended responses.
So with that brief explanation, let’s proceed to some results.
First, let me show you some key explicit results. They are results that reflect the respondents’ images of
the client’s resort.
32 In closed-ended fashion – which you see at the top in blue – we found that the resort felt largely peaceful,
not really boring, and not really exciting. (Now we explored many other emotional areas, but this is one
example that exemplified this resort.)
Further explicit results – from coding open-ended responses, which you see here at the bottom in red –
informed us of more vague feelings – good or nice in general, and again, peaceful. So we did have this
information to go on.
But we wanted to get deeper and better understand the emotionality associated with the client’s resort
property and similar resort property in general.
So we conducted a series of hypnosis-interviews and engaged people in relevant conversation while they
were in hypnotic states.
I’m about to read a representative “implicit” quote as closely as I can to the way we heard it – and
typically hear it – from hypnotized respondents.
The quote involves a respondent re-living an experience he had when he was a child at a resort location
much like the client’s. Here it is…
What is it about that pull-out bed that’s so attractive to you as a child? It's different. It's close to
33 Close to everybody. How so? You’re not isolated. You don't have your own bedroom with a closed
door. It's like a big sleepover. Everyone’s excited, staying up late, acting silly.
Now my reading of this 2-dimensional quote does not give justice to the emotionality in it. When we see
and hear a respondent in a hypnotized state of mind, it’s truly one of those, “you have to be there to
understand it” experiences. More than just the words, but the tone, the cadence, and other non-verbal
physiological indications help “slap us in the face” toward paying attention to important emotional
experiences. And from this, we get insights that we do not get from explicit data alone – or even from
quality non-hypnotic interviewing.
In this study, strong implicit emotional insight was garnered in many quotes like this. From these
interviews, it became obvious that…
Hypnosis helped to reveal the power of child emotions that were important to decisions regarding the
client’s property. If we only had the explicit information, we would have likely settled on peaceful
emotions, but likely not emotions related to being a child – like feeling silly as this respondent said.
Now some of you may be saying that we don’t need hypnosis to elicit this type of information. Just good
probing interviewing will suffice. I agree with that to a degree. But hypnosis AMPLIFIES the emotions
and informs us of WHAT emotions have more power than others. Also, in many instances, hypnosis
34 evokes important memories that are just a little more difficult to get to using less hypnotic conversation.
By the way, I’ve recently spoken with the client about how they’ve used these results. I’m told that they
were inspired by the child emotions to institute feelings that are simple in nature (and literally in nature)
and they’ve built “simple life” into both the land they’re developing and also into their corporate culture
OK, let’s move on to the third case study. This one involves…
Psychodrama. Like with the hypnosis interviewing study, I’ll get to what psychodrama is and how it helps
us reveal what people can’t or won’t otherwise tell us in a minute. For now, just know that psychodrama
35 involves acting out relevant experiences instead of just talking about them.
In the psychodrama study…
We were asked to help a broadband services company find what I called an impenetrable emotional
positioning because competition had recently come into their market. For a time, they were moving to
be bought out by the competition – and this was made public – but at the last minute, they decided to
stay and fight. For the fight, they wanted to explore positionings that would help them win.
36 Like with the other studies, this research included explicit information by way of a conjoint analysis and
respondents’ preferences for various positioning statements.
In addition, we qualitatively collected implicit information with a series of individual interviews, which
utilized some psychodrama exercises.
How does psychodrama work to reveal what people can’t or won’t otherwise tell us about how they’re
Well first, you must realize that emotions are neuro-chemically connected to our thoughts AND our
behavior. Our actions are captured neurologically in our brains and tied to our thoughts and feelings
37 Psychodrama then essentially involves re-enacting our behavior – not just talking about it – which
activates the behavior-thought-emotion neuro-chemical connections.
By doing that, events, thoughts, and their associated feelings are brought more to consciousness,
sometimes quite surprisingly and dramatically.
With that explanation, let’s get to some results.
First, here are the…
…explicit results, starting with the conjoint analysis. In the conjoint analysis, which was designed to show
us attributes that were most related to purchase interest in this category, we found that technology,
service, and price were most important.
Furthermore, the explicit branded positioning results showed us that service was the most preferred
positioning for our client.
With this explicit information only, just imagine what you might recommend in terms of a positioning for
38 this company.
Now let me show you…
A revealing implicit psychodrama result.
Just like with the hypnosis-interviewing result, I'm going to read a quote from a respondent in a
psychodrama exercise. In this psychodrama the person – a man – was re-enacting the time when he first
heard that the company might be leaving. He had been a customer for many years and in this re-
enactment, after a good bit of role reversal, this is how he told the company just how he felt about them
I feel a little bit betrayed. However... (long pause) ... and it doesn’t make me feel good that you have
to leave. I have used you for so long, I feel like we're partners here.
Again, my rendition does not do justice to what was happening to this person emotionally. The long
pause was there because he was literally getting a lump in his throat as his sadness surfaced. In fact, like
with several other respondents in this study, he was literally almost to tears over the possibility of losing a
very dear partner.
Now in this case, I think even with highly effective, but traditional, interviewing, the real power of the
emotion would not have hit us in the face. A respondent can say “I feel betrayed,” but when a
respondent says “I feel betrayed” almost in tears, which the psychodrama elicited, it slaps you in the face
and says “LISTEN MR. RESEARCHER, THIS IS IMPORTANT!” And it’s this slap in the face that sends the
emotion to strategic recommendations.
Therefore, the point of this case study…
…that is, the BENEFIT of the psychodrama technique, is that it revealed the real power of relationship
Now after this study, the client communicated this message to its customer service staff. In fact, when I
40 delivered the final presentation, the customer service staff in the room, of which there were 20-30, got
emotional themselves, relating many personal relationship stories that they had with customers. It
seemed to bring them alive and made them appreciate the fact that their job was really about RELATING
to people on an EMOTIONAL level.
Well, sadly – or maybe gladly, I’m not sure…
This brings us to the end of today’s presentation.
Let me summarize the three main points that I’d like you to take away from this presentation.
First, I want to impress upon you that emotions truly do – neurologically, physiologically – drive people’s
consumer behavior. Emotions provide the value that allows reasoning to become action. And for that
reason we should study them more than we do.
41 Second, people often can’t or won’t tell us how they’re explicitly feeling. But most traditional research
collects, interprets, and recommends from explicit information, so...
The third point is that we need to consider implicit techniques in our research to help marketers see and,
most importantly USE, hidden emotions, whether they be unconscious or whether people just choose not
to share them explicitly.
Speaking to this explicit / implicit issue, a couple of European emotional researchers…
Peter Cooper and John Pawle say this…
“In review of the techniques available to measure emotion, our conclusion is that market research
42 must allow for the measurement of both explicit conscious feelings and implicit cognitive emotions for
a more comprehensive account of the consumer-brand relationship.”
I couldn’t say it any better.
So with that…
43 Here is the references slide that I promised earlier.