How to start well
People who are seen as warm and competent uniformly elicit positive attitudes and behaviour
The researcher can choose and mould the most useful norms of interaction and behaviour into the group at the start.

Being warm and sounding competent at the start will automatically make people feel positive towards you. Fiske et al

Your participant/s will listen carefully to you because they don’t know what to expect. The researcher’s introduction is a powerful communication, that gives information, reassurance, and creates useful expectations. It also includes your professional and legal obligations.

Its not just what you say, but how you say it. Be professional yet informal, making the participant/s feel valued. Manage the housekeeping too. They should feel comfortable and know that it will finish on time.

Explaining the researcher role

Ideally the researcher needs to present asĀ 

  • Independent (not responsible for the material being researched)
  • Non-judgmental, open to hearing criticism
  • Mainly there to listen and understand
  • Also needs to keep time so may interrupt and move the conversation on

Expectations of participants

  • Talk honestly and freely
  • Listen politely to the views of others and add to them
  • No right or wrong answers
  • Details are important
  • Personal views matter (not company or group views)
  • May be doing some visual exercises as well as talking

Data Protection and Code of Conduct

  • What data is gathered, any recording, how long will it be kept for, who will have access to it
  • Is it anonymous (no names are known) or confidential (names are known but not revealed)?
  • Right not to answer and to withdraw from interview/group at any time

Setting norms and housekeeping

The researcher models:

  • how formal/informal the conversation will be
  • language that can be used (especially for embarrassing/ difficult subjects)
  • how serious/ creative / emotional the tone will be

And ensures everyone knows about breaks, toilets, refreshments, and ending times, etc.


A short document that describes the complete process of starting a group or interview.

Adapt it to your own needs – the principles are the same for almost any form of market research interview or group.