Techniques of Eliciting Response, Probing Questions, Observation

17th May 2021 0 By indiafreenotes

Eliciting Response

An elicitation technique is any of a number of data collection techniques used in anthropology, cognitive science, counseling, education, knowledge engineering, linguistics, management, philosophy, psychology, or other fields to gather knowledge or information from people. Recent work in behavioral economics has purported that elicitation techniques can be used to control subject misconceptions and mitigate errors from generally accepted experimental design practices. Elicitation, in which knowledge is sought directly from human beings, is usually distinguished from indirect methods such as gathering information from written sources.

A person who interacts with human subjects in order to elicit information from them may be called an elicitor, an analyst, experimenter, or knowledge engineer, depending on the field of study.

Elicitation techniques include interviews, observation of either naturally occurring behavior (including as part of participant observation) or behavior in a laboratory setting, or the analysis of assigned tasks.

List of elicitation techniques

  • Interviews
  • Existing System
  • Project Scope
  • Brain Storming
  • Focus Groups
  • Exploratory Prototypes
  • User Task Analysis
  • Observation
  • Surveys
  • Questionnaire
  • Story Board

Probing Questions

These questions are useful for gaining clarification and encouraging others to tell you more information about a subject. Probing questions are usually a series of questions that dig deeper and provide a fuller picture. For example: ‘when do you need the finished project, and is it ok if I email it to you?’

Asking probing questions is another strategy for finding out more detail. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking your respondent for an example, to help you understand a statement that they have made. At other times, you need additional information for clarification, “When do you need this report by, and do you want to see a draft before I give you my final version?” Or to investigate whether there is proof for what has been said, “How do you know that the new database can’t be used by the sales force?”

Useful for: seeing the bigger picture, encouraging a reluctant speaker to tell you more information, and avoiding misunderstandings.


In marketing and the social sciences, observational research (or field research) is a social research technique that involves the direct observation of phenomena in their natural setting. This differentiates it from experimental research in which a quasi-artificial environment is created to control for spurious factors, and where at least one of the variables is manipulated as part of the experilovement.

Data collection methods

Generally, there are three methods used to collect data in observational research:

Covert observational research: The researchers do not identify themselves. Either they mix in with the subjects undetected, or they observe from a distance. The advantages of this approach are:

(1) It is not necessary to get the subjects’ cooperation.

(2) The subjects’ behaviour will not be contaminated by the presence of the researcher. Some researchers have ethical misgivings with the deceit involved in this approach.

Overt observational research: The researchers identify themselves as researchers and explain the purpose of their observations. The problem with this approach is subjects may modify their behaviour when they know they are being watched. They portray their “ideal self” rather than their true self in what is called the Hawthorne Effect. The advantage that the overt approach has over the covert approach is that there is no deception.

Participant Observation: The researcher participates in what they are observing so as to get a finer appreciation of the phenomena.