The Undeniable Power of Storytelling or Narrative Qualitative Research

Rafael Roxas
Aug 03, 2021

The Undeniable Power of Storytelling or Narrative Research

The science that drives decision-making is heavily debated. What spurs a decision-maker to action in one moment can just as easily deter them in another. This is because we process events twice, once as an in-the-moment experience and a second time as a personal story for future remembrance. How these stories are shaped based on that in-the-moment experience influences the decisions an individual makes on them.

But how can you break down something as subjective and nuanced as narrative storytelling in qualitative research? The answer lies in the inductive and deductive methods of narrative analysis.

Research Using the Inductive Method of Narrative Analysis

The inductive method of narrative analysis focuses on keeping individual narratives intact. Keeping individual narratives intact ensures that you get a clear picture of how a story occurs and resonates as a whole. In typical market research procedures, a respondent’s narrative is often broken down into parts so that they can be compared and categorized in relation to the shared anecdotes of their fellow respondents. This does well for group consensus but often the subtle nuances of an individualized experience can be quickly lost. Practicing the inductive method of narrative analysis ensures you avoid missing out on these valuable insights.

A quick way of familiarizing yourself with the inductive methodology is by observing a respondent’s language for verbal hints that signify the beginning and end of his or her stories. If you know where a story begins and ends, you’re less likely to cut out details that may very well be crucial to the story.

Sample Verbal Cues for the Beginning of Stories:

•    “There was this one time…”,
•    “Let me give you an example”,
•    and “I’ll always remember when…”

Sample Verbal Cues for the End of Stories:

•    “So that’s how that wrapped up…”
•    “That is a pretty classic example of…”
•    and “and that was the end of that.”

Research Using the Deductive Method of Narrative Analysis

The deductive method of narrative analysis allows you to utilize existing story structure elements to elevate analytics. It’s a form of categorization that allows you to not only identify objective facts behind a respondent’s narrative but also subjective themes and meanings that are often difficult to quantify in research.

Literary Elements to Look Out for Include:

1.    Characters
2.    Settings
3.    Plot
4.    Conflict
5.    Resolution
6.    Themes
7.    Morals
8.    Symbolism
9.    Point of View
10.  Perspective

All stories, whether fictional or non-fictional, will have traces of these literary elements in them. The same goes for stories told by your respondents in your in-depth interviews. In short, if you’re looking to spur action in your audiences and clients, you can leverage inductive and deductive methods of narrative analysis in your qualitative research to strengthen your ability to pitch decision-making concepts or ideas.

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