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There’s so much that test participants can’t (consciously) or won’t (politely) say, increasing the risk of inaccurate, unreliable lip-service input. Here’s a case in point of where what people say and how they behave doesn’t align.

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While fMRI brain scans are expensive and invasive, with results that can be hard to decipher, high-quality manual facial coding offers a practical solution. It’s a matter of trying to read 100 billion neurons vs. 23 facial expressions that correspond to seven core emotions. Moreover, facial coding is supremely flexible as to settings and usage. Observational facial coding can be done during focus groups, for instance, or quantitatively using web cams. Perhaps even more of value, facial coding can work both to learn people’s initial response during exposure to a stimulus (like a TV spot) plus during some or all of participants’ subsequent verbal response to stimuli.

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