A new study from Shapiro+Raj, shows the power of what we call TechManity™, which uses the perfect blend of Human Empathy + Artificial Intelligence to deliver Transformative Outcomes. The Breakthrough Paradox takes the pulse of the nation and explores what roles brands can play in bridging the divide of today’s societal tensions.

This ongoing research uses next-gen research tools to measure and track the holistic “health” of America now and over time. Our integrated team of social scientists and brand strategists have identified insights that brands and businesses can use to align and connect deeply with the values their consumers hold dearly.

In the first set of findings, we dove deep into the conflict between “Individual Freedom” versus “Collective Benefit,” the tension identified as the most important to solve. It was illustrated
as “I don’t want to be told what to do vs. society needs rules and cooperation to support everyone.”

Most Americans (83%) value Individual freedom, yet 54% also value collective benefit — in the minds of U.S. citizens these ideas are not diametrically opposed. Among those who offered a solution to this conflict, the majority (55%) mentioned the need to come together to unite as one.

To get beneath surface-level conflicts – such as Red v. Blue or Urban v. Rural — we focused on key indexes such as overall wellbeing, the level of unmet needs along Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and satisfaction across different aspects in the Wheel of Life, such as health, wealth and relationships. This gives the broad context and holistic lens to examine deeper paradoxical tensions.

We used Luminoso™ — an advanced linguistics analytical tool powered by artificial intelligence (AI)—to dig deeper into the open-end responses of the survey’s respondents. (Luminoso was built using MIT Media Lab’s crowd-sourced Open Mind Common Sense (OMCS) project.) Our analysis shows very meaningful differences between those Critically Concerned (reporting that their greatest concerns are at the basic survival needs of food, water, shelter, and safety) and those Unconcerned (reporting that they have no concerns related to any of Maslow’s five tiers of needs).

Critically Concerned respondents were more likely to use specific language, calling out issues such as wealth disparity and racial inequality; Unconcerned respondents, on the other hand, used more general terms. References to Democrats, Republicans and lies were also more prevalent in the Unconcerned group, while references to the need to listen, understand, and educate were more prevalent in the Critically Concerned group.

We found rich insights through the power of voice with an emotion-detecting AI tool called Phebi®. It shows the potential tension or disconnect between the conscious and subconscious by discerning what is said (sentiment) and how it is said (emotion). Phebi® helps us identify when someone is saying something positive, but word choice and tone may convey an underlying anger or fear. It revealed, for example, the greatest emotional negativity is found in the voices of the most vulnerable: About one third of the respondents  are concerned about things like making ends meet.

Luminoso™ and Phebi® are two of the many ways we are using technology to uncover insights across large data pools. Coupled with human empathy, they can unearth hidden biases and connections and  help us ‘read’ a respondent’s mindset on a much deeper level.

From this inaugural wave of research going forward, the Breakthrough Paradox aims to address these  big questions of our time:

  • What is the essence of the “American Identity” in today’s world? What lies beneath the paradoxical truths on the surface?

  • How do these competing forces shape our attitudes and behaviors as consumers?

  • How can brands meaningfully connect with and address stakeholders’ needs?

To learn more about how the findings from the Breakthrough Paradox can apply to your brand, download the report here.

About Shapiro+Raj

Shapiro+Raj, the sixth-largest independent insights company in North America, generates Future-Forward Insights for Fortune 500 clients. Recognized as the top-5 most innovative research company, the #1 strategic insights consultancy, and the largest Nationally Certified Minority Business Enterprise, Shapiro+Raj operates from Chicago, New York, and Pune, India, serving global clients. For more information, contact Shapiro+Raj at (312) 965-2319 or visit https://www.shapiroraj.com.