I recently read about “commitment bias”: the desire and tendency to be consistent with what we have already done or said before.


commitment bias

This one hit a particular nerve with me as I can recall many a “heated discussion” (let’s not say argument) with internal and external clients in the research industry about it. That fear of changing things “because it’s different”. The idea of commitment bias just doesn’t sit well with me – and I think that’s why I feel so at home in Mustard, because it just has no place here.

It’s important not to confuse commitment with commitment bias. Committing to tracking brand perceptions, or brand awareness, is not the problem. I agree that tracking studies form a critical part of many client’s research budgets, and at Mustard we conduct several brand and customer satisfaction tracking programmes for global businesses. The problem only arises when there is an opportunity to track the same measures in a different (dare I say better) way.

We’ve all been there. You’ve been tracking some sort of metric for a while and, after reading up on a new methodology, or having a discussion with a client or colleague, or after a plain old-fashioned lightbulb moment, you think there might be another way. A slight tweak in the question wording might make it easier to understand. A slight tweak in the layout might make the research more user-friendly. A slight tweak in the reporting template might make it easier to embed into the business. Or this could even be one of those colossal lightbulb moments that challenges you to think about more than medium or major tweaks.

Either way, at Mustard, we can guarantee that being worried about ‘straying from the norm’ will not bias our judgements. Yes, it will of course, form part of the decision making process, but we won’t let it hold us back. We recently revisited our brand values and two of these are particularly relevant here: “We initiate and embrace change” and “We are happy to challenge when necessary.”

When push comes to shove, we are here to deliver the best research we can, and in doing so make the biggest difference that we can, opening the doors for our clients to use the insights in the best way they can. Change is (normally) good. Everybody wins.

Bethan is a research manager at Mustard, and would love to hear what you think about challenging the norm!