Skip to Main Content

Design Research

Cultural Probes

Cultural Probes :

Researchers studying consumer behavior would love to watch their respondents, customers or end-users via big one-way screens going through their daily routine in their natural habitat. Of course this type of research can hardly ever be realized. One way to gather data of behavior, values and lifestyle of consumers  without the researcher being on the spot, is to make use of Cultural Probes. The researcher provides participants with a so-called Cultural Probe Kit, consisting of for instance a diary, photo camera, postcards, maps and/or recording devices etc., all paired with clear-cut, motivating assignments. By executing these assignments, it is the respondent himself who provides the researcher with all sorts of data varying from personal stories, timelines, photo’s with captions, spoken documents to drawings, mind-maps, moodboards etc.  The data provided this way have a true-to-life character and give a rich and inspiring insight into the consumers’ behavior, values and lifestyle.

For the (design) researcher this information can be very valuable for developing a prototype of a product or service. Or it can give valuable input for designing a follow-up session with these consumers, with other consumers and/or with stakeholders.