How to Gain Insights from Emotionally Charged Questions

In product design, we are taught that we shouldn’t ask leading questions in interviews / testing.

Don’t you hate when XXX happens?
Isn’t it harder that you don’t have XXX in your life?
Wouldn’t your life be simpler if you had XXX product?

We avoid asking leading questions like those. But why?

Generally it is true that leading questions give us biased answers that are influenced by the question itself, but they can be easily avoided. And if you do ask them, it isn’t the end of the world as long as you are aware of your mistakes.

But since we take this to heart, we often overlook the technique of presenting emotionally charged statements and questions to users.

What do emotionally charged questions do?

It allows you to gauge the emotional depth of your interviewee and gain more data to work with.

By presenting an emotionally strongly charged questions you are able to stimulate the interviewee to engage with that specific emotion. And through this engagement, you can overcome different barriers, such the one in my example later in this article.

Nearly 90% of communication is non-verbal. Take advantage of this.

To represent the emotion you are putting forward, you need to say your question with matching vocal tones and stresses. No need to over do it but it is important that you anchor that charged question to a universally understood emotion.

Result? = More potential data and understanding of your user.

I found this best used when I wanted to affirm certain suspicions during an interview which I could not discover through traditional methods of interviewing.

I normally ask emotionally charged questions near the end of sessions to assure that the rest of the interview is not affected as sometimes it can set the tone for the rest of the interview.

Here is an example of it being used in action…

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