The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

Places that Spark Emotions

There's no reason why qualitative researchers need to work in spaces dictated by convenience, cost or functionality, so why not take a walk on the wild side?

We often talk about needing to get closer to System 1 reactions, using all sorts of techniques to avoid over-rationalised responses — projective techniques, ethnographies, observation, listening…. Behavioural Economics has really rammed home how important context is in determining what we say, think and feel.

So why is it still so often the case that our professional spaces and places are so often dominated by convenience, dull functionality, and (likely) cost? There’s plenty more we can do in the everyday — without spending a fortune. Inspiration is at hand from some of the hipper shared-space locations in Berlin, for example: Mindspace Berlin or Fabrik23. We’ve just turned our roof space into an urban gardening space. Come the summer months, we split up meetings if feasible, with say the first half in the open air — and then moving down to a closed meeting room environment.

Starbucks can do the ‘second home’ thing — so why can’t we? Food and drink also make a big difference — we know that from parties, so why not build it systematically into our professional lives? We don’t need to be Olympic athletes to learn some basic principles from them.

When we do co-creation groups, lasting say up to four hours, where there’s a huge expenditure of energy and effort, we often start with giving participants energising food — appropriate smoothies, superfood berry snacks, all naturally stimulating stuff — while walking around is part of the package too.

No need to go overboard on place and space — but as quallies, we’re great at improvising, and there’s masses you can do with small budgets and a trip to the local arts and crafts store, or even a DIY shed. If anyone is visiting Berlin, drop us a line and swing by. Our roof terrace is waiting.

 

Edward Appleton
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2016