April 2-3, 2019

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The Power of Play: Unlock Prospective Thinking with a PlayFULL Research Technique

Prospective (or System 3) thinking impacts decision-making as consumers use their imaginations to visualize themselves possessing something they desire, their hopes for a positive outcome, their fears of a negative outcome or exploring intrigue about possibilities. To influence – and potentially change – consumer behavior, we need to fully understand not just target moments and the goals and motivations in those moments, but the hopes, fears and aspirations that impact decision-making and are the work of System 3 thinking.

A powerful way to unlock this prospective thinking is through the use of play-based behavioral research methodologies designed to help consumers remember the past to anticipate and imagine future outcomes. PlayFULL Insights is a method that goes beyond System 1 (fast decision-making using intuitive, more impulsive mental processes) and System 2 (slower decision-making using cognitive, rational processes) thinking to unlock System 3 thinking for greater depth of insight.

In this session, we will share a case study that leverages PlayFULL Insights – an application of the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology. PlayFULL Insights is a facilitated thinking, communication and problem-solving technique where participants use LEGO® bricks to build a story in response to carefully-crafted questions. This “hands-on” method focuses on the building of 3-D models using metaphorical thinking and incorporates authentic storytelling and deliberate reflection. This allows participants to share inner, subconscious truths that, in turn, deliver comprehensive and insightful answers to research questions.

We will explore the many benefits of a play-based methodology like this one – for example, how research participants who feel relaxed and playful are more comfortable going deep and taking risks to answer your research questions. We will also look at how research teams can also get “hands-on” and fully engaged in research initiatives by using play-based research, like PlayFULL Insights, to bring new perspectives to the conversation and to innovation.

Presentation type:

  • Case Study Presentation

Subjects covered:

  • Customer experience
  • New techniques – qualitative and quantitative
  • Gamification


  1. Understanding of the three modes of thought: System 1 (or “implicit”) thinking, System 2 (or “explicit”) thinking and System 3 (or “prospective”) thinking.
  2. Examples of consumer decisions which rely on each of the three systematic thinking modes.
  3. Exclusive exposure to an innovative way to access consumers’ System 3 or prospective thoughts: PlayFULL Insights, a qualitative methodology using LEGO® bricks.


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