The Association for Qualitative Research
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Word association

A simple enabling exercise where research participants suggest words they can associate in any way with something relevant to the research, such as a brand or activity. They are asked to do this quickly, without thinking too hard and without analysing or censoring their responses. These associations often become the subject of further discussion. Neuro-psychology suggests that concepts may be stored in the brain in associative clusters; it is possible that this simple technique may enjoy a resurgence in popularity as we learn more about how information is processed, stored and retrieved from the brain.

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