The Association for Qualitative Research
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Pre-tasking and disruptive techniques

Often researchers want spontaneous and unprompted responses from participants, but on other occasions it is useful to pre-sensitise them to issues, activities or brands relevant to the research. So respondents are given focusing or even 'disruptive' tasks to perform for a few days before coming to the group or interview. They might be asked to keep a diary of a relevant activity, to refrain from an everyday activity such as cleaning the lavatory or watching TV, or to avoid their regular brand of some product. This gives participants a perspective on the meaning to themselves of that issue, activity or brand which can then be explored in the group or interview, greatly enhancing the researcher's understanding of it.

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