Propensity to Help a Stranger (Participate in User Research)

|by Raphael Weiner|

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User interviews are the foundation of product discovery. They also require significant time from both the interviewer and participant. In a world where we aim to automate everything, there's still no way to scale the discovery call itself. And there probably never will be.

While it is clear why the interviewer is participating in the discovery call, why do users offer their time to help a relative stranger?


We know that understanding motive is the key to uncovering user insights during discovery. And while you may spend interview after interview digging for motive – how often have you asked yourself why the participant agreed to the call in the first place? Would understanding motivation

Propensity to help a stranger

People may participate in user research for a variety of reasons:

  • Genuine desire to be helpful
  • Affinity for the product / category
  • Self-interest (to influence the product in way that helps them)
  • Self-importance (feel they're an authority on the subject)
  • Curiosity (what are they going to show/ask?)
  • Boredom (don't have much else going on)
  • The incentive

And since we're human, of course it's a combination of the above.

Understand why, before trying to understand why

It's up to you to understand why your users would be willing to offer their time (and insights) for relative free. Not only will you uncover better insights during the interview, but it will also help you recruit the right users. Does the user segment you need to speak with already have a good reason to speak with you, or do you need to give them one?

The who, where, when, and how you recruit for user interviews is critical. If you're still recruiting haphazardly, we built Orbital to save your time and sanity – join our early access program!

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