About Our Research
The BDI uses its methodology to understand group behaviour, carrying out precise research on groups to produce actionable recommendations. Below are some examples of projects which BDI has either led or consulted on:
Child Marriage in South Sudan
In late 2011, BDI worked with SCL Social to design and implement a project commissioned by UNICEF. The project sought to undertake research to inform a communication campaign to prevent child marriage and enhance the protection of girls in South Sudan. Through targeted interviews with fathers of young girls aged 9-12 years and focus groups with mothers, BDI sought to understand the psychological mechanisms underlying the practice and the values, attitudes and myths that exist in order to build a profile of the audience. A number of expert and key stakeholder interviews were also conducted to inform and compliment the research design and findings.
A mixed methods interviewer-led survey was conducted with fathers in three states in South Sudan: Central Equatoria, Lakes and Upper Nile. Within each state BDI trained researchers to conduct interviews in one urban area and two rural locations. This was to ensure that the potential differences in practices and beliefs in child marriage that may vary between rural and urban locations were accounted for. Sampling for this study was complicated by the difficulties of mobility around the country, inaccurate and limited population data and accessibility to women and children without a male presence. Through targeted questions, the interviews and focus groups explored beliefs surrounding the practice of child marriage, its prevalence, communication practices and potential alternatives. The data is currently being collected and will be analysed later this year.
Voting behaviours in India
In November 2011, BDI was contracted to undertake an in-depth study of how social caste affects voter decision-making behaviour in northern India. BDI designed and implemented target audience analysis to determine the emotional triggers underlying voter decision-making in several constituencies.BDI sought to test the hypothesis that voting decisions are often based on caste affiliation.
Working at the constituency level, BDI designed the research based upon a mixed-methods approach, and recruited and trained a team of local researchers to canvas neighbourhoods within each constituency to deliver surveys face to face and via the telephone. Data was translated and entered in country before being passed back to London for analysis by BDI consultants.
This project proved methodologically challenging. The proportionally small numbers of residents using a telephone and the lack of accessibility to residents’ contact information meant that innovative strategies were needed to obtain the information required to draw up a sample frame for quantitative research. Due to the Indian government’s caste-neutral policy, even basic data on caste demographics was virtually non-existent and drawing a sample representative of each caste was extremely challenging. Thus, BDI had to organise extensive preliminary field research before beginning the project itself, which included desk-based research and analysis of secondary source data.Upon collection of preliminary data, BDI ran a caste dominance analysis to determine for each constituency whether voting decisions were made on the basis of caste. TAA was then conducted to determine the psychosocial, socio-dynamic and communication profiles of the people within these constituencies.
Crime in St. Lucia
In September 2011, BDI was asked to conduct an in-depth study on youth crime and recidivism in St. Lucia to support domestic community and governmental efforts to understand and address the myriad challenges associated with gang crime. In doing this, BDI isolated two distinct “audience groups” – inmates and non-inmates related to, or belonging to gangs – who represented key subjects integral to anti-crime and –recidivism efforts.BDI developed a Targeted Audience Analysis that was administered to both groups to gather quantitative and qualitative data. BDI also conducted desk-based research and expert interviews to supplement TAA outcomes.
A comprehensive analysis of results indicated that social stigmatization of ex-prisoners, pervasive poverty and unemployment, a lack of family structure and community cohesion, and a dearth of socially acceptable alternatives to crime for youth were some of the most important factors contributing to St. Lucia’s high crime and recidivism rates. With these findings in hand, BDI was able to put together a comprehensive set of recommendations for the St. Lucian government within its final report.
Lifestyles in Lebanon
BDI was asked to conduct a pilot study in Lebanon from January to March 2011. In collaboration with our local research partners, BDI assisted in the design of the Lebanon Lifestyle Pilot Survey, an interviewer-led household survey. The objective was to better understand the values and lifestyles of the Lebanese people, in particular how values and lifestyles are changing or not changing. This was intended to be a pilot study of 500 Lebanese citizens to inform a later main study. The 31-question survey was broken down into four sections exploring respondent’s attitudes, lifestyles, interests as well as demographic details.
Data collection proved difficult on many fronts. At the time of the study, governmental resignations of Hezbollah ministers had placed the country in a volatile predicament, and demonstrations and violence had become prevalent. This resulted in an extremely challenging environment in which to conduct research.
BDI consultants were provided with pre-determined geographic strata from the client as the starting point for the sampling plan whereby specified numbers of respondents were required in certain regions of Lebanon. Further breakdowns required of the sample were by gender and age within each strata. BDI were also advised that there were several pre-determined minimum quota requirements across all completed surveys. These included having a quota of employed, educated and religious individuals.
There were a number of limitations resulting from these pre-determined quotas, for instance the small sample size would limit the extent to which sampling could control for sources of variation in the population not considered at the planning stage of the project. The required quotas negated the possibility of using random sampling as the suggested quotas indicated a level of precision that would be more likely achieved using proportionate stratified sampling. This method could help avoid misrepresentation of the population as sample sizes are drawn based upon their actual representation in the population. However, despite this being the optimum method, we were unable to adopt this approach in the purest sense due to a significant lack of accurate, complete and up-to-date population data, making accurate sampling extremely challenging. For instance, the Lebanese government had not conducted a census since 1932, nor did it have a centralised population database. Furthermore, roadmaps turned out to be both scarce and extremely unreliable outside of Beirut and researcher safety and mobility were uncertain due to the deteriorating political situation in Lebanon. To tackle this problem, BDI created satellite street maps of target areas and employed geographic sampling techniques to sample respondents as accurately as possible.
Children of the World: A Study in Egypt, Jordan, and KSA
In 2010, BDI consultants were employed in a study into the socio-cultural characteristics and attitudes of different youth groups in Jordan, Egypt, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The specific focus of the study was on exploring how different communities and age groups have varying attitudes towards, and views on their positions within society and the groups to which they belong, with a view to understanding how young people form ideas about their culture and society. The wider project objective was to use the understanding of the attitudes of young people within local communities to inform communication with these groups in aid of anti-radicalisation projects.
Perhaps the greatest challenge to the research design was the cultural sensitivity of some of the topics explored, such as perceptions of justice, tribal affiliations and poverty, especially given the age of study participants. BDI researchers created a list of general indicators – factors including locus of control, perceptions of violence, and the level of emotional support from family – around which questions were centred. Quantitative surveys and in-depth interviews were then administered to two audiences in multiple locations in each country – children aged 9-14 years, and young people aged 15-29 years.