Free Association in marketing Psychology

09/11/2021 0 By indiafreenotes

Method of collecting qualitative marketing research data in which respondents are asked to supply the word or idea which first comes to mind in response to a word or phrase given to them by a researcher; the technique is used to further understand shopping, advertising, branding, etc.

Free association involves asking consumers what comes to mind when they think about the brand. Projective techniques are tools used to uncover the true opinions and feelings of consumers when they are unwilling or otherwise unable to express themselves. For example, a common projective strategy involves asking a consumer to compare a brand to a person, animal, car, or country. For example, a consumer may be asked, If Microsoft was a car, what kind of car would it be? While qualitative techniques provide in-depth consumer insights, they typically involve very small samples of consumers that may not be generalizable to the perception of the larger population

Free association is a technique used in psychoanalytic therapy to help patients learn more about what they are thinking and feeling. It is most commonly associated with Sigmund Freud, who was the founder of psychoanalytic therapy. Freud used free association to help his patients discover unconscious thoughts and feelings that had been repressed or ignored. When his patients became aware of these unconscious thoughts or feelings, they were better able to manage them or change problematic behaviors.

The goal of free association is not primarily to uncover hidden memories but to identify genuine thoughts and feelings about life situations that might be problematic, yet not be self-evident. For example, a woman might tell herself and others that she ‘loves the people she works with’ but ends up avoiding her colleagues most of the time. Free association would be a helpful technique to explore the conflict or tension between these two competing attitudes.

In traditional free association, a person in therapy is encouraged to verbalize or write all thoughts that come to mind. Free association is not a linear thought pattern. Rather, a person might produce an incoherent stream of words, such as dog, red, mother, and scoot. They may also jump randomly from one memory or emotion to another. The idea is that free association reveals associations and connections that might otherwise go uncovered. People in therapy may then reveal repressed memories and emotions.

Sigmund Freud was in the process of developing free association from 1892 to 1898. He planned on using it as a new method for exploring the unconscious. It would replace hypnosis in this respect. Freud claimed free association gave people in therapy complete freedom to examine their thoughts. This freedom would come, in part, from a lack of prompting or intervention by a therapist. Freud proposed the technique helped prevent three common issues in therapy:

  • The process of projecting one’s own qualities onto someone else.
  • The process of transferring feelings one has for one person to a different person.
  • The practice of blocking out certain feelings or memories.

Contemporary Free Association

Freudian free association is fairly uncommon in therapy these days. Even among neo-Freudians, the technique is not often used. But contemporary mental health practitioners might us a modified version of free association. They may ask someone in therapy to recall all the memories associated with a particular event. A person in therapy could be asked to share the first word that comes to mind after seeing a picture or write down all the thoughts they have at a certain time.

Criticism of free association

The main criticism of free association has been that people may overproduce associations. This can be caused by pressure from a therapist. Someone in therapy may struggle to say as many random words and thoughts as possible. Difficulty can occur even if the person is not actually thinking about these topics. Associations may also be random and unrelated to a person’s psyche. For example, someone may start by recalling a memory of their mother. They may remember song lyrics associated with the memory and then begin naming musical artists. This could create the appearance of associations and memories that do not actually exist.