Mutual understanding exercises, often referred to as conflict groups, are an interesting and alternative research method used by Enventure Research which can be particularly useful when carrying out research between two very different, and sometimes opposing, groups of respondents.
As with a focus group, respondents from each opposing group/population are recruited to attend the mutual understanding exercise. All recruited participants initially meet together to introduce themselves, and then split into their separate groups to participate in a moderated discussion. Each discussion is observed by the opposing group, either via a two-way mirror or a live video stream. Finally, the groups are brought back together to discuss the things they have observed in order to achieve a mutual understanding that lends its name to the exercise.
Mutual understanding exercises are an excellent methodology to employ when aiming to reach an understanding between opposing and conflicting opinions, attitudes, motivations and behaviours, and can often reveal great insight into the reasons behind these conflicts. They also allow for realistic ways forward to be designed by those who they will affect the most.
An example of a mutual understanding exercise carried out by Enventure Research was between local stakeholders such as the police, health and social services, and local teenagers who were being accused of anti-social behaviour in their area.