Media Scope Group Behavioral Methodology – FAQ

A bird eye on group of people.

The Media Scope Group Behavioral Methodology distinguishes itself from commercial social science research, marketing and polling in four key ways.

1. A behavioral focus

Why behavior and not attitudes?

The human world is the totality of our behavior. Whilst attitudes are important, most problems – and certainly those that our clients face – are manifested behaviorally. In addition, as behaviors are measurable in a way that attitudes are not, a focus on behavioral influence enables us to establish robust MOEs (Measures of Effectiveness) to assess the success of our strategic communication campaigns.

How does this differ from other approaches?

Most research conducted by commercial social scientists focuses on attitudes, assuming they are a precursor to behavior. However, we wouldn’t particularly mind if people dislike us if they are friendly and cooperative, or if they buy our products. Clients have a problem because people behave unfavourably towards their goals, whether not buying or using certain products, not eating enough healthy foods, not wearing seatbelts in cars, etc. Focusing on the behavioral aspect of a problem opens up a multitude of solutions beyond changing attitudes.

2. An audience-centric approach

Why audience-centric?

An Audience-centric approach takes into account the internal logic of our audiences and their cultures. It seeks to understand a target audience’s behaviors and related attitudes from their perspective, and establish those motivations, values, attitudes, and beliefs that provide us with the normative leverage required to design and influence strategy.

How does this differ from other approaches?

Commercial social science research is often derived from a comparative framework and applies an external (often called audience-focused) point of view to groups and cultures, explaining events and behaviors through an ethnocentric frame of reference. Whilst the results of this kind of research may help us understand groups and cultures in comparison to our own, they rarely offer the insights needed to make actionable recommendations on how to exert influence aimed at behavioral change.

3. A holistic systems approach and group level analysis

What do you mean by holistic systems and why do we need group level analysis?

A holistic systems approach considers people in a society as independent but interrelated parts of a social system, organised by a certain pattern of relationships. When it comes to behavior, our individual attitudes and preferences are lesser determinants than the social and behavioral dynamics within which we operate. When it comes to influence, it is essential to examine a combination of specific and highly relevant social norms, comparative preferences, and behavioral intent.

How does this differ from other approaches?

Most forms of quantitative research are primarily based on aggregates of individual scores, even though it is well known that the average, arithmetic mean can provide very misleading statistics when the broader context is considered. Our research aims at discovering group-level traits that are endorsed and shared by its members with respect to the group.

4. The use of phased research

Why can’t we do all the research at once?

Systems thinking focuses on cyclical rather than linear cause and effect. Diagnosing the causes of behavioural problems in a social system first of all requires an understanding of the problem as part of the overall system. Once this has been achieved, specific groups and their roles within the social system can be isolated as potential audiences for influence campaigns. Building a psychosocial profile of these target audiences requires its own phase of research and analysis, after which potential influence strategies can be identified.

Hypothesis testing and the subsequent contextualisation and understanding of findings enables us to make specific recommendations for influencing target audiences.

How does this differ from other approaches?

Most research companies specialise in either quantitative or qualitative research, and even when they use both, they rarely use a phased mixed methods approach, whereby qualitative research is employed to generate hypotheses, and quantitative research to test hypotheses.

To achieve the level of granularity required to understand how we might go about changing behavior, a systematic, multi-phase, mixed methods approach to research and planning is essential.

Doing the right kind of research that informs the type and nature of a campaign and its design is what Media Scope Group specialises in, and after this phase has been completed, Media Scope Group will be able to design a strategic campaign for the product, based on:

Effective target audience segmentation:

  • Behavioral, psycho-social and socio-dynamic characteristics of target audiences (to the extent that this is possible within the scope of phase 1 and based partly on the quality of the existing research), which directly inform campaign design in terms of context, framing, and campaign type.
  • The process (or narrative) of attitude shaping that will inform the message design through the identification of characteristics of messages that successfully shape attitudes in the context of the specific audiences and product in question.
  • The formal and informal influence, power, and decision-making structures and processes of target audiences that will inform Initiating Sets for the campaign, and key focal audiences.
  • The beliefs, attitudes, and motives/incentives that drive key audience behavior – this will inform message context.
  • The issues, influences, and messages that are competing for group attention and the identification of necessary means and thresholds to co-opt or overcome this competition.
  • An analysis of the available channels for communications – Media Scope Group will make recommendations based on the reach and credibility of the channels.
  • The analysis of options, not limited to media or other traditional means, for achieving the behavioral objectives – Media Scope Group will analyse the advantages, disadvantages, and risks of each, and make recommendations for action.

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