“Psychology is the science of mental life, both of its phenomena and their conditions. The phenomena are such things as we call feelings, desires, cognitions, reasonings, decisions, and the like.” William James, Philosopher.

Cognitive is a term used to describe the mental processes involved in gaining knowledge and comprehension, simply put…Cognition is our thoughts.

“Cognition refers to the mental process by which external or internal input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used. As such, it involves a variety of functions such as perception, attention, memory coding, retention, and recall, decision- making, reasoning, problem-solving, imaging, planning and executing actions.” Ulric Neisser, Psychologist.

When it comes to us as human beings the cognitive approach to behaviour views us as processors of information in a similar way to how a computer processes information.  The cognitive approach to behaviour focuses on areas of research such as schema processing, memory processing, and thinking, and how cognition may influence behaviour.

Cognitive task analysis (CTA), is a type of analysis aimed at understanding tasks that require a lot of cognitive activity from the user, these include language, attention, thinking, knowing, remembering, and problem-solving.  

In market research, CTA methods are helpful for researchers to gain a better understanding of why people make key judgements and decisions, interpret certain situations, problem-solving, develop plans, and use their cognitive skills to carry out demanding tasks. 

By applying a cognitive approach to qualitative research it becomes effortless for respondents to give far deeper, and more significant responses than just asking survey questions.

One such approach is cognitive mapping, which is a technique used to explore the honest opinions of respondents.  It is all about getting to the core of peoples beliefs and sentiments about a brand, product, or service.

A cognitive map is very similar to a mind map, with the difference being that the opinions and perceptions of individuals can be linked to highlight the correlations between each other.  As well as measuring the relationship of these correlations, the strength of these can also be mapped.  By doing this, researchers can start to develop a good robust set of attributes for a brand, product, or service, and propose which of these have the strongest correlation.

Using association and closeness analysis (sometimes called cognitive network science) we can map a network of concepts and how each relates to one another.  

For example, let’s consider the concept of Britishness.

Cognitive closeness analysis places Britishness at the centre, then explores the distance between this and other concepts.

For example, the royal family might be very close to the centre whilst rain might be further away.  This will likely vary by the population asked, for example, the concept of Britishness is likely different for a British national compared to a Japanese or French national 

Cognitive closeness analysis can create powerful maps for branding/marketing campaign work.  For such maps to be useful, it should be noted that closeness and sentiment are not the same things.

Returning to our Britishness example, concepts close to Britishness are not necessarily positive, think unattractive teeth!

So, for cognitive closeness analysis to be useful for brands, research must establish not only the closest concepts, but the closest concepts that are also the most positively appraised If you’d like to learn more about how cognitive closeness analysis can help develop your brand, contact Steven at Critical Research