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Consumer Quantitative Research

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Decoding Market Research Jargon A-Z (Part 3, I-M)

By Helen Lester, Sagitta Market Research Ltd.

Following on from our previous introduction to research jargon, we continue our guide to demystifying research terminology, with terms beginning with I, L and M. If there is anything you would like explained or added, please contact us at

IHUT stands for In-Home Usage Testing. Where a product is tested in the participant’s own home. Also referred to as HUT, an acronym for Home Use Test.

In-home interview A face-to-face interview conducted in the respondent’s own home. See also doorstep interview.

Interview bias Interview bias can cause misleading research findings. The bias may stem from poor questionnaire design/phrasing, as well as interviewer bias (for example, how the interviewer asks a question or who they choose to interview). Sagitta MR is very experienced at designing questionnaires which minimise the risk of interview bias (e.g. incorporating reversing scales, rotating lists and setting quotas). We also regularly check our data for such biases. Furthermore, we naturally ensure all our interviewers are sufficiently trained and briefed to avoid interview bias in our research.

Leading question A poorly designed question that encourages respondents to select a certain answer. Leads to interview bias.

Likert scale An answer scale given to respondents so that they can confirm the extent to which they feel positive (e.g. agree) or negative (disagree) about a specific statement. Originally developed by a psychologist named Rensis Likert in 1932, Likert scales have the same number of comparable negative and positive statements either side of a neutral mid-point. A Likert scale is usually a five-point (but can also be a seven-point or nine-point) scale. An example of a five-point Likert scale is as follows, where the ‘strongly’ and ‘tend to’ definitions are used for the both negative and positive elements of the scale:

Strongly agree
Tend to agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Tend to disagree
Strongly disagree

Longitudinal research (or continuous research). Research conducted in several phases (or ‘waves’) to establish trends and evaluate how opinions may be shifting over time. Continuous research typically involves asking the same questions to the same individuals for each ‘wave’ or asking the same questions to people who share similar characteristics (e.g. customer profile).

Margin of error (or confidence interval). The range within which the percentage (value) giving a specific answer would fall if the whole population were interviewed. Usually calculated to a ‘95% confidence interval’.

Moderator A qualitative researcher who facilitates the discussion among focus group participants. A group moderator is responsible for encouraging all participants to share their opinions and guide the discussion as outlined in the topic guide. Also called a group moderator. Sagitta MR uses experienced and highly skilled moderators covering the whole of the UK.

Multicode question A question where respondents are permitted to give a number of answers. For example, ‘Which social media apps do you use at least once per week?’ The respondent may provide multiple responses (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp…), or just one answer (including ‘none’), depending on what applies to them personally. Multicode questions can be prompted or unprompted. Occasionally, multicode questions are referred to as multiple choice questions.

Mystery shopping A research methodology used for a range of objectives. These may include: measuring the quality of service provided by a company, checking compliance with regulations, as well as gathering information about pricing or products, to name but a few. A specialist researcher visits/contacts the business, behaving as a normal customer, in order to make assessments. A questionnaire or report is typically completed after the session to avoid arousing suspicion during the visit/contact. Traditionally used as a research methodology to monitor customer service levels delivered in shops (hence the reference to the term ‘shopping’), mystery shopping can also be used to monitor service at telephone call centres, as well as service provision online. Also known as secret shopping.