Focus groups don’t work because most people don’t say what they really think in social situations.
Especially when we pay them $50 to sit in an over-lit room with a one-way mirror on a wall and an anxious moderator checking her notes.
- One voice can sway the group
- People copy each other
- Discussion changes attitudes
- People won’t express unpopular views
- People change their mind to fit in
- People agree with the majority
Add the observer effect - the scientific principle where subjects modify an aspect of their behavior in response to the fact that they know they are being studied - and focus groups become even more unfocused.