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5 terms or concepts your research team wants you to know

Steven Carr  |  September 12, 2019

Research can be intimidating, but if you’re focused on building world-class customer experiences (CX), products, or services it’s also imperative. Although customer research can be conducted by anyone in an organization, researchers have a unique skill set and expertise to help you get the necessary customer feedback you need to build great CX.

To get the most out of your research, it’s helpful to speak the language of researchers. That’s why we talked to our research team to unearth a few of the terms and phrases they use that can help you better communicate and interact with them.

Concepts you should know


While it may seem like an obvious term—and one that you may think you know—it’s also one of the most important. Bias is when there is a loss of balance and accuracy when conducting research. And it can appear at many different stages. For example, you may come across bias when sampling, designing questions, interviewing, or analyzing and presenting data.

It’s crucial that when conducting research, you work with professionals to avoid bias in order to ensure that your time (and money) is well spent collecting data that is in fact representative of a wide population.


Benchmarking is the process of running the same tests, at different points in time, to check how you’ve progressed in whatever key metrics or criteria you’ve set for that test. Many organizations use benchmarking research to uncover hidden opportunities, implement best practices, and create a competitive advantage. And don’t forget, benchmarking research can include competitors, so there’s no need to limit your comparative research to your own properties over time.

Quantitative vs. qualitative research

Generally, the primary difference between quantitative and qualitative research is the presence of numerical data.

Quantitative research

Quantitative research is used to quantify a problem by way of generating numerical data that can be transformed into actionable insights. Some examples of methods for quantitative research include surveys, longitudinal studies, and observation of numeric and unchanging data.

Qualitative research

Qualitative research is the primary focus of the UserTesting platform and is primarily exploratory research. It’s most often employed to gain an understanding of underlying reseasons, opinions, and motivations—in a nutshell, how people think and why they do the things they do. Some qualitative methods of research include focus groups, interviews, usability testing, and more.

Attitudinal vs. behavioral research

When it comes to conducting user research, there are many different techniques that can be effective. In general, user research aims to uncover not only what people say but also what they do. That, therein, lies the difference in attitudinal and behavioral research.

Attitudinal research

Attitudinal research methods gather qualitative insights into a user’s thoughts, feelings, needs, attitudes, and motivations. Usability testing is extremely effective for this when users speak aloud how they’re feeling when performing an action or using a prototype.

Behavioral research

Behavioral research methods aim to measure what users actually do. Examples of this include observing how a user interacts with your website or prototype. Often researchers are able to combine attitudinal and behavioral research when asking a tester to narrate how they feel when performing the desired actions of a test.

Sample, representative sample, and random sampling


A “sample” refers to the population that is researched during a particular study. Generally, researchers aim to produce a “sample population” that is representative of a group or groups of people to whom the results of the research can be generalized for.

Representative sample

A “representative sample” is a sample where all the participants closely match the characteristics of a general population in relation to the key variables that are being studied. For example, if you’re testing a product for left-handed people, a representative sample would include a subset of all the left-handed people in the world.

Random sampling

Unlike a representative sample, “random sampling” is a process where researchers draw a sample strictly by chance. In this scenario, the desired sample has no intended similarities between participants and can be used to find outcomes that only exist because of experimental

Want to learn more?

Every team across an organization has a unique role to play in creating great CX, and like research teams, they all have their own words and phrases that help them get their jobs done.

Check out some of the key terms and phrases you should know that other teams are using:

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About the author:

Steven is a Content Strategist at UserTesting. When he’s not inserting oxford commas where they belong, you can find him shooting pool at a local dive or laughing at his own jokes.