Attitudinal and behavioral research

Torresburriel Estudio
4 min readMay 15, 2024


As we always say, UX research is crucial to understand how users interact with products and services. And depending on the data we want to collect, we can differentiate two major blocks with different approaches: attitudinal research and behavioral research.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

While the former focuses on the opinions and attitudes of the users, the latter observes their actual behavior when interacting with a product or service. And if we combine both approaches, we’ll achieve a holistic view of what our users say and what they do.

In this article, we were talking about the differences between both approaches and the methods used.

Attitudinal research: exploring opinions and feelings

Attitudinal research plays a crucial role in user experience because it provides a direct window into the perceptions, opinions, and feelings of users about a product or service.

It’s not what we can observe as UX Researchers, but rather it’s based on listening to the users.

By focusing on what users say, think, and feel, this approach offers deep insights into the underlying motivations and expectations of the users, which is essential for designing experiences that truly resonate with them.

This type of research seeks to understand what users think and how they feel about the various features, usability, and the overall experience of a product.

Attitudinal research methods

These methods allow for the collection of qualitative data that can reveal valuable insights into user expectations and needs, as well as potential frustrations.

  • Surveys and questionnaires: both are powerful and flexible tools in attitudinal research. They allow for the quick collection of large volumes of data about users’ attitudes and opinions. When designing these instruments, it is crucial to formulate clear, concise, and relevant questions for the research objective. Moreover, offering rating scales and open-ended questions can enrich the collected data, providing both quantitative and qualitative measurements of users’ attitudes.
  • Interviews: offer an opportunity to delve into the complexities of users’ opinions and feelings. Through detailed and directed conversations, researchers can explore topics in depth, capturing the richness of users’ experiences and perceptions. The flexibility of interviews allows for adapting the dialogue in real-time to explore new lines of inquiry that arise, making this method a great source of qualitative insights.
  • Focus groups: bring together small groups of users to discuss their perceptions, ideas, and reactions towards a product or service. This group dynamic can generate rich and revealing discussions, as participants influence and respond to each other, unveiling aspects of their attitudes and feelings that may not be evident in individual interviews. However, it’s important to manage these groups carefully to prevent dominant opinions from skewing the discussion, ensuring that all participants have the opportunity to express themselves.

The effective implementation of attitudinal research requires careful consideration of research objectives, the selection of appropriate methods, and detailed analysis of the collected data. When interpreting the results, we must be mindful of the potential influence of cognitive biases, both in participants and researchers, as well as avoid leading questions.

Data triangulation, or the collection of information through multiple sources and methods, can help validate findings and ensure a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of users’ attitudes.

Behavioral research: observing action

Unlike attitudinal research, behavioral research focuses on observing how users actually interact with a product or service. This approach is based on the premise that users’ actions can significantly differ from their stated or expressed intentions.

  • Task analysis: This method focuses on observing and recording how users complete specific tasks using a product or service. It allows identifying the steps users take, the obstacles they encounter, and the efficiencies or inefficiencies in the current workflow. By breaking down tasks into individual components, researchers can identify areas for improvement and opportunities to simplify and optimize the user experience.
  • Usability testing: Essential for understanding how users interact with a product under controlled conditions. By directly observing users as they attempt to perform predefined tasks, researchers can gather insights on the interface’s intuitiveness, ease of navigation, and user satisfaction. Usability tests offer immediate feedback on design aspects that work well and those that need to be revised or improved.
  • Web analytics data: Provides a rich source of data on how users navigate and interact with a website or app. Tools like Google Analytics can reveal behavior patterns, such as the most visited pages, typical navigation paths, bounce rates, and dwell times. These data allow researchers to better understand user behaviors on a large scale, identifying areas of interest and potential friction points in the digital experience.

The key to a successful UX strategy is the effective combination of both types of research. While attitudinal research can reveal the needs, desires, and problems users perceive, behavioral research shows how they actually interact with the product.

This rich and detailed combination of data enables designers and developers to create user experiences that not only meet expressed needs and preferences but also align with users’ actual behaviors.



Torresburriel Estudio

User Experience & User Research agency focused on services and digital products. Proud member of @UXalliance