What would you like (for Christmas / Birthday / Leaving present …)?

Now, when you’ve got someone who’s older than – say – five, and you’re not Santa … actually, even if you are … and they have a gift-related event coming up, you tend to ask them what they might like for a present (if you’re in the UK).

(If you’ve not had this experience, you might want to think about how it was when you were littler, and what folk did for you.)

Why do we do this?

I would suggest we have a number of drivers:

  1. It’s cultural accepted. To do differently would be a bit odd.
  2. It saves you time having to think of a present yourself
  3. You might actually get something the small person wants

When was the last time you saw a research paper that had asked the folk who were to receive it what they wanted to get? If you assume the same sorts of benefits, then researchers might be able to save time and get something that’s desired if they take the time to ask.

When it came to setting up The Big Question (a project to evaluate services for children with life-limiting conditions), the research team actually did do this, asking:

1. What questions would you like us to ask in the research?
2. What is important to you … in the services that families receive?
3. What would you like to change in services if you were able to?

Cracking idea. Then they’re more likely to turn up the answers wanted, rather than a heap of shiny metal, some perfume, and a bottle from the back of the mortuary.

– Archi

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