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The Value of Context

Updated: May 10, 2023

As market research experts, data gurus, and public opinion professionals, we specialize in maintaining a consistent pulse on Arizonans’ perceptions, opinions, and plans. While this is the name of the game in the market research sphere, OH Predictive Insights ascends where many others fall short; we understand the value that context brings to not only the voters and residents we survey, but to ourselves and to our clients as we piece together the stories within the data.

Knowledge is power, but knowledge with context is virtuosity.

Finding and applying context to the information we are collecting and dissecting begins with crafting an intuitive survey script. There are several items to consider when creating survey questions, but an essential part of formulating a truly insightful survey is understanding and leveraging heuristics.

Heuristics are the mental shortcuts humans take to process information and make judgments quickly and effectively in order to solve problems or save cognitive energy. The constant use of heuristics in our everyday lives can make it easy to overlook but vital to tap into.

From the perspective of the respondent, there are two key pain points that researchers must address and solve prior to deploying a survey:

  1. Unclear or biased questions

  2. The time and energy it takes to complete the survey

If a respondent is confused by your questions, can pick up on any bias, or has to spend too much time or mental energy to answer, their response is less likely to be a thoughtful and accurate representation of their true opinion or perception.

Time is precious to every individual, and the more we respect the time and mental energy of the voters and residents we survey, the higher our chances of gaining true, insightful data directly from the voice of the respondent that our Data Analysts can translate into actionable insights to guide strategic decision-making. Tuning into heuristics and leveraging important context in our survey questions has been a key nutrient in fueling the accuracy of our predictive insights at OHPI.

In our March 2021 Arizona Public Opinion Pulse (AZPOP) survey, we found a staple example of the value that proper context provides in survey research.

R Senate Primary with/out titles

In this survey, voters were first asked whom they would most likely vote for in the upcoming Republican US Senate Primary Election from a list of names. These responses are represented by the blue bars in the above chart. After this initial question had been answered, respondents were then asked the same question of the same list of names, but this time each name was accompanied by their respective title (red bars). By providing the context of each candidate’s title in the second question, we were able to pave a heuristic shortcut for our respondents that allowed them to answer our question intelligently, quickly, and more accurately. 11% of respondents were able to replace their “Unsure” answer in the first question with the name and title of a candidate they would most likely vote for in the second question.

By asking these two versions of our question, we gained a higher-definition picture of voter plans and perceptions as we saw first-hand the importance of proper context and the value of tuning into the human side of data collection. At OHPI, we never underestimate the crucial component of human response, but work to understand and share its complexities. What it comes down to is people who are passionate about meaningful data and motivated by truth – characteristics that can be found in each and every one of OH Predictive Insights’ team members.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Anyone can hand you data; we hand you answers.

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