The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Excellence

Cognitive model

A term coined by Mary Goodyear to describe one approach to qualitative market research in which pre-defined topics are explored, in a relatively structured or disciplined way, through face-to-face interviews or group discussions.

The outputs - respondent comments and expressed attitudes - are taken more or less at face value. Groups (often known as 'focus groups') are in most cases observed as they happen by representatives of the client organization, many of the decisions resting on the research being taken immediately.

This style is common in the US and in other parts of the world and is contrasted by Goodyear with a 'conative' or interpretative style of qualitative research, most commonly seen in the UK and Europe.

Note that neither of these terms has acquired common usage, though the two different styles of research are widely recognised.

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