Attitudinal and Behavioral Research

Attitudinal and Behavioral

While not as common as the conversation of quantitative and qualitative, another filter for narrowing down research methodologies is the conversation of attitudinal and behavioral. This distinction can be summed up by contrasting “what people think” versus “what people do” (very often the two are quite different). 


Attitudinal methods gather qualitative insights into the user’s thoughts, feelings, needs, attitudes, and motivations.

The main goal in attitudinal methods is to categorize attitudes or collect self-reported data that can help track or discover important issues to address. The purpose of attitudinal research is usually to understand or measure people’s stated beliefs.

From these methods, you can expect to gather powerful insights in the form of quotations and anecdotes.

An example of an attitudinal research method is a one on one interview with a potential user about your proposed product. A few examples of questions that would be found in the interview are:

  •  What do you think of this product or service?
  •  How do you see yourself using this product or service?
  •  How much would you be willing to pay for this product or service?


Behavioral research methods aim to measure what users actually do, providing quantitative data about how users actually interact with the product or service in question.

Due to the nature of these behavioral research methods, the insights tend to focus on trends identified through analysis of larger numbers of users, in contrast to attitudinal methods which are somewhat constrained by time, sample sizes, and available resources.

An example of behavioral research would be watching a participant interact with your product through open or closed scenario tasks and learning from their behavior, it’s common for a participant to behave differently than they would say in an interview.

Using Qualitative/Quantitative and Attitudinal/Behavioral together

Now that we’ve defined all the terms, lets talk about how one uses these two filters to narrow down which methodologies should be used.

Let’s pretend you’re working on updating a webpage that advertises a product. Your goal is to increase sales. For one test, you’ve decided to focus on the Call To Action (CTA), a button that states “Buy Now”. Perhaps sales would increase if the button text were changed to “Add To Cart”. What research methodology should you use to test and improve the CTA?

Start by asking yourself the question around qualitative vs quantitative: am I looking to test this with one user or many users? Secondly, ask yourself the question around attitudinal vs behavioral: do I want to know how they feel about this button or what actions they take?

In regards to one or many users, we can determine that testing this alteration with one user may not tell the whole story. While one user may prefer “Buy Now”, others may prefer “Add To Cart”. In order to get the full picture, many users will need to be tested. In this case, the focus should be on quantity, not quality.

In reference to our second question about how users feel about the button verse what they actually do, we can either collect different opinions on which button text is better or we can collect data on which button is more used. While having data on feelings can helpful, having data on which is more used is significantly more helpful. In this case, a focus on behavior provides more value.

Now that we’ve determined the focus of our study should be on quantity and behavior, we can narrow down which research method should be used.

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