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Stereotyping is a Projective Technique that involves presenting a description of people, either using words or images, and asking people questions about the topic of interests. For example:

  • What soft-drinks would these families have in the house?
  • What brand of bubble gum is she chewing?

This is then followed up with a probing question in which the participants are asked to explain their answers (e.g., What makes you think that?

Example word descriptions

Family A: Both are about 30 years of age with two young children and are very much concerned about owning things. They desperately want a better lifestyle, so he works hard, often for overtime pay, in order to be able to achieve this. She is planning to return to work, part-time, as soon as possible. They spend time furnishing and decorating their home as they are very house proud. When it comes to buying things, they are more influenced by looks than anything else. They watch TV and read an average amount and tend to follow trends once they have already become fashionable. They think of themselves as modern and up-to-date, but are really quite conventional with regard to family life. They fall into the medium income bracket.

Family B: Husband and wife are in their early fifties with one married son and a 19-year old-daughter. Mr B. works at a boring job and is grateful for the money, which pays for the basic necessities of life. Mrs B does not work, so they do not do much in their leisure time because they cannot afford it. He enjoys football and gambling; she bingo. They watch TV a great deal. They feel that life is hard nowadays, and owe a lot of money. They buy on price – the cheapest possible. Their attitude to their family is traditional, and so are their political and social views. They are climate sceptics.[1]


  1. Adapted from Gordon, Wendy and Roy Langmaid (1988), Qualitative Market Research: A Practitioner's and Buyer's Guide. Aldershot: Gower, p. 105.