Primary Research: Probes and Interviews

Aims and Objectives

The research aims to create a body of original work that will contribute to our understanding of Anxiety Disorder (AD). Using a cultural probe I will examine the differences between people who suffer with AD and those who do not. The probe encourages the participant to record actions and feelings intermittently throughout a 18 hour period. Once this is completed participants will be offered the opportunity to discuss their personal experience further through un-structured interviews. The proposed methodologies will allow me to investigate AD on a broad and deep level, helping me to build empathy and understand how it affects suffers differently.


Mental health, for most people, is deeply personal and a journey that only their closest friends and family embark on alongside them. Anxiety is an illness that cause a persons fight or flight mode to be triggered in often everyday situations, therefore ensuring  anonymity, data protection, and discretion is extremely important in protecting the participants emotion well-being. Given the delicate topic I decided that probes would be most appropriate and the least invasive whilst still yielding quality data. My approach is to ensure that the participant feels comfortable and relaxed. As shown below my probe is a ‘day in the life of’ dairy documenting an everyday action i.e walking to university, an emotional response to thus action and a visual representation (interpreted however participant wants too), intermittently every two hours throughout an 18 hour period.

This probes is designed to identify and examine the following categories;

  1. Difference in emotional responses to every tasks.
  2. Potential AD triggers.
  3. Patterns in activity and emotional responses.
The A Word - Primary research Sheet
First draft: example of recording sheet

Unstructured – interviews

Taking into consideration everything I’ve learnt I believe un-structured interviews are another good methodology to use with people that are potentially vulnerable. The format of a un-strctured  interview is more like a conversation, flexible, free-flowing, informal and open-ended all qualities that I believe would help ensure the participant is relaxed and comfortable. Although there will be certain topics I wish to discuss, the questions will not be preset which will allow the participant to lead and take control. I understand that often un-structured interviews are considered to lack reliability as a different set of questions will be asked each time, but, in this instances that’s what I want as I want to understand each participants individual story and account of their anxiety.


As with any research undertaken it is important to ensure that I understand any ethical implications and identify whether my research proposal will require ethical review by the Faculty Research Ethics Committee (FREC). SHU space make this process fairly easy, by following the steps outlined below, it should become clear whether or not I’ll need approval.

Step 01 – Read the FREC guidelines available on SHU blackboard

Step 02 – Research Ethics: Checklist For Approval

Step 03 – Participant Information Sheet

Step 04 – Pariticpant Consent Form

Once I have read FREC’s guidelines and completed the necessary forms I will need to take everything to my tutor to get the go ahead or alternatively ask for ethical approval from the board.

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