What can be discovered when human recall is compared to actual human behavior? To answer this question, DISQO conducted a study that assessed the limits of self-reported behaviors, titled “Assessing Human Recall: Understanding Limits & Measuring Reality”, which we have just released today.

As marketers and researchers strive to better understand their audiences, so they often turn to surveys to get a glimpse into attitudes and behaviors. Every day, people are asked about their past shopping behaviors, as insights professionals rely on human recall to inform key business decisions.

However, can busy and over-stimulated people be relied upon to remember details about their shopping behaviors over a long period of time? Nearly 700 members of the DISQO Audience participated in the study, which assessed the recall gap with respect to:

  • Online retailer site visitation
  • Categories shopped
  • Subcategories shopped
  • Price paid for items purchased

In short, while people are able to recall general behaviors with relative accuracy, their recollection of specifics falters.

So what does this mean for insights professionals? As noted by our VP of Consumer Insights, Carl Van Ostrand in the formal release, “While surveys are crucial in understanding audience sentiment, reliance on recollection alone provides only a partial picture. By unifying attitudinal and behavioral data, marketers and researchers can attain a higher level of clarity and understanding.”

Ultimately, the study quantifies the importance of leveraging multiple research methodologies, particularly in the pursuit of better understanding the nuances between what people say and what they do.

As always, it is imperative to understand when & how to use reported survey data, when research is better served by sources of observed behavioral data, and when it is best to leverage a combination of both.

Discover More

To learn more about the recall gap and how it varies based on the questions being asked of consumers, check out the full report. If you are attending CRC 2019, don’t miss our session, which will explore how one major grocery retailer is leveraging passive behavioral data in conjunction with in-the-moment attitudinal insights to better understand their shoppers.

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How do you close the gap in your organization’s understanding of audience opinions and behaviors? What have you discovered in the process? Share your thoughts with us on Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook!