By David Hill - 07/27/05 12:00 AM EDT
Got a few minutes to participate in an impromptu focus group that uses projection exercises? Get some privacy where you can close your eyes and think of John Roberts. Judge John Roberts. Develop a visual image of him in your mind.
OK, how’s it going so far? Can you see him clearly? If not, stop and find a current edition of Newsweek. Study the cover boy.
OK, I sense you now have him fixed in your mind’s eye. Hold on to that image.
Now, with your eyes still closed, also conjure up a visual image of Robert Bork. Having some trouble? If you’re too young to remember him, imagine Ozzie Osborne with a proper haircut. If you’re too old for that to provide a useful cue but can remember Rasputin, that should suffice.
Now, imagine that you are a casting agent working on a new Superman movie, only this time the plot’s about Superman in his middle-age years. But he’s still the man of steel who puts on his red-and-blue tights to dispense justice. You have to cast either John Roberts or Robert Bork in the role. Who gets the part?
See how insightful these focus groups can be?
Here’s another projection exercise: First imagine that John Roberts and Robert Bork are single. Focus groups often require this sort of suspension of reality. That’s why you get paid upwards of $65 to participate. Now imagine that your Aunt Thelma is widowed. But you hear that she has a new beau whom she will be bringing to a family picnic on Labor Day weekend. Whom do you hope shows up on Thelma’s arm, John Roberts or Robert Bork?
Here’s exercise No. 3: Two corporate MBAs are up for promotion to vice president of the company and a huge pay raise. The CEO interviews them and concludes they are intellectual equals. They both have similar r