Top 10 benefits of using online tools to conduct projective techniques

Anthony Shephard, associate director at Mustard, explains the top 10 benefits of using online forums and communities to get the most out of projective techniques.

For many researchers and clients alike we think of conducting projective techniques and we tend to think of these happening within focus groups or depth interviews.

More recently we have seen a surge in the number of shorter pop up forums and communities we have been running for our clients and as such the opportunity to get creative and use projective techniques in an online setting has also increased.

As we have used more projective techniques online we have found them to be extremely successful in accessing subliminal and subconscious thoughts and we have used various techniques 

With that in mind we want to share the top 10 benefits of carrying out projective techniques in an online setting:

 1)    It’s more fun for respondents which means you get the most out of them! A lot of online respondents are used to tick box surveys with closed questions or open ended questions that allow for shorter verbatim responses. With projective techniques it really is chance to rip up the rule book and write questions in a fun and thought provoking way. 

2)    There is less pressure for respondents. Unlike a group setting, online, respondents have valuable time to respond when they choose to. They are not put on the spot or rushed. This means they can construct their response and ensure they get across what they really want to say.

3)    The respondents can reply on their own terms. Respondents reply at a time and place that is convenient to them. They are more relaxed in their own environment and less out of their comfort zone.

Own time

4)    It may reduce group bias - All respondents have the chance to get their opinions across and they are less likely to be swayed by others. Furthermore, sometimes in a group situation despite our best efforts to get the most out of them, respondents can be shy, embarrassed or worried about making themselves look stupid.

5)    The volume of feedback will undoubtedly be higher. To prove this point I actually reviewed the transcripts from a recent focus group with 8 respondents and the responses from 8 respondents in a two week online forum where they were both asked the same projective technique. The numbers have been counted and verified and the word count is in: focus group = 586 words vs. online forum 1451 words.   

6)    Online discussions can snowball. Respondents can see and read each other’s responses. We have found this leads to less duplication with responses as respondents want to bring fresh ideas to the table. They can also be inspired to build on others ideas which can take the discussion down a completely different route. Moderators and clients can also see the responses unfold and develop over the duration of the forum / community.

7)    Creative questions are easier to digest in written format. It allows respondents to take their time and read through all points and questions and absorb them fully. This is great for all respondents but more so for international respondents who might not always be responding in their native language.

8)    You can really push creative boundaries by using multiple projective techniques. Typically in a focus group or depth interview you would use one or two projective techniques at most. We’ve just ran a 2 week online forum whereby we had 8 different topics and activities; half of these were based around four different projective techniques. 


9)    It can be more interactive – respondents can vote for their favourite responses or like other respondents ideas. Moderators, clients and respondents can all be involved in the technique to make sure we all get the most out of it.

10)  Being online and having the benefit of time leads to more flexibility with any given projective technique. As new comments are put forward moderators are able to adapt and change the scope of the techniques along the way. We can change or add to the questions or ask respondents to re-visit particular ideas and suggestions.

At the end of our online forums and communities we always ask respondents to provide feedback on the experience and here are just some of the recent comments we have received:

 Projective Technique recommendations  Online community comments

 Mustard Online Community comments Mustard Online Community Positive Comments





Mustard Online Community Positive Comments 2

If you want to talk about projective techniques or online qualitative research or have anything to add contact or call 0161 235 5270