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Behavioral research + methods, examples, tools

Behavioral research + methods, examples, tools
Elena Mitsiou
•  09.05.2024
If you are looking to incorporate research into your product strategy, behavioral research might be the answer! Behavioral research is at the intersection of psychology and sociology and it is a great way to unveil the nuances of human behavior when it comes to the way that humans interact with a system.

In this article, we have collated everything you need to know about behavioral research, its main methodologies, real use case scenarios as well as the best tried-and-tested tools to get stuck in!

What Is Behavioral Research?

Behavioral research is at the intersection of psychology, sociology, and anthropology, amongst others, and it is all about getting an understanding of human behavior. Within a product strategy context, behavioral research examines the various aspects of behavior. This occurs when the user interacts with a system or interface. Behavioral research deploys a range of different methodologies, such as but not limited to user testing, task analysis, behavioral observation, and mapping, with the main aim of understanding the cognitive mechanisms and processes that underpin action, memory, and decision-making.

Attitudinal vs Behavioral UX Research

Attitudinal and behavioral UX research are two approaches to conducting research that often complement each other. On the one hand, attitudinal UX research is laser-focused on observing and mapping the attitudes as well as perceptions of the users about a product or a service. Attitudinal research involves methodologies such as interviews and focus groups or surveys to gather data and insights about the users’ lived experiences when it comes to product usage. This approach unveils the motivations, pain points, and user needs.

On the other hand behavioral UX research is all about observing the actual behavior of a user while they interact with a product. Behavioral research deploys methodologies such as task analysis, user testing, eye-tracking, and heatmaps to gain insights into how users interact with an interface and pinpoint areas of improvement.

How Behavioral Research Helps Improve UX

Behavioral research is pivotal for better UX. Here are some key benefits that conducting behavioral research has to offer:

Predictions of User Behavior

Through behavioral research, researchers have an unmissable opportunity to observe and analyze user behavior. In this way, they can uncover patterns and trends that can predict future user behavior. Those informed data-backed predictions can be gold for both the enhancement of already existing features and the development of new futures since they allow UX designers to proactively meet user needs and tackle areas of improvement in time. Hence, behavioral research can lead to a more frictionless and meaningful user experience that meets the ever-evolving user needs.

Improved Personalization

Behavioral research can provide juicy insights and data into user preferences. These insights can be then leveraged to offer a more personalized approach to design. For instance, based on this data product teams can develop algorithms that can provide users with personalized recommendations on content. In this way, UX designers have an unmissable opportunity to craft interfaces that are more relatable and hence more pleasurable with higher user engagement.

Enhanced Accessibility

Last but not least, behavioral research plays a pivotal role in creating interfaces and systems that are widely accessible to people of all abilities. More specifically, behavior research can pinpoint barriers as well as help identify potential accessibility needs that need to be addressed. Having these insights about accessibility, UX designers can craft interfaces with accessibility features and alternative input methods. This ensures that the interface adheres to the main accessibility standards creating in this way more inclusive user experiences.

8 Essential Behavioral Research Methods

Here are the 8 essential behavior research methods you should master today:

User Testing

User testing is a behavioral research methodology that involves observing users while they interact with an interface. Worth noting is that the interface can be that of an actual product or a prototype. During the test, the researcher observes the user while they complete a specific task to gain insights into the challenges that they might encounter while completing that particular task. Hence, this method is great for pinpointing areas of improvement and crafting digital experiences that feel frictionless.

Watch our step-by-step guide to help you choose the best user testing tool. ⬇️

Task Analysis

Task analysis is another quintessential behavioral research methodology whereby complex tasks are broken down into small manageable steps. By breaking those complex tasks down and analyzing each step, product owners can gather invaluable insights about the cognitive mechanisms that underpin decision-making and user action. Designers can then put this knowledge into designing interfaces that feel more intuitive.

Card Sorting

Card sorting is another behavioral research method where users are asked to categorize information intuitively. An excellent way to gather insights about the way your users consume information is card sorting. It also reveals how they perceive categories and their content. UX designers can then put this knowledge into practice and create meaningful labels for the information architecture of the digital product that is in line with the user’s mental models.

Try these UXtweak’s tools in practice ⬇️

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Behavioral Mapping

Next up is behavioral mapping. This methodology revolves around creating a visual representation of the user interaction within a particular digital interface or a specific feature within this interface. By visualizing the movements of the user, researchers and designers can identify patterns. They can also identify areas where users show particular interest or areas where users make the most mistakes and rectify them if needed!

Behavioral Observation

On the other hand, behavioral observation is all about observing user interactions within a natural or testing setting. The observation can take the form of video recordings, field studies, or ethnographic studies to better understand how users behave in real-world scenarios and apply those findings to a digital product or service.

Contextual Inquiry

Contextual inquiry is a methodology whereby users are observed while they perform a specific task in their natural environment. This technique also involves the researcher simultaneously asking questions to get a deeper understanding of the motivations and goals that underpin the decision-making process.

Clickstream Analysis

Clickstream analysis is all about analyzing the clicks and the navigation paths that users follow within a digital interface. By doing so, UX researchers have an unmissable opportunity to identify areas of frustration with the so-called rage clicks, as well as think about ways of designing a path that guides the user to perform a specific task with the least clicks possible!

Log Analysis

Last but not least, log analysis involves the analysis of the data logs that are generated by the application stacks. The careful collection and analysis of these logs can give juicy insights into user behavior and usage patterns.

Top 10 Behavioral Research Tools

Here are the top 10 tried-and-tested behavioral research tools to get stuck in:

1. UXtweak

UXtweak is the only comprehensive user research platform you will ever need when it comes to behavioral research. The platform boasts a range of tools such as session recording, usability testing, card sorting, and more to help you capture and analyze user insights without a hitch.

Behavioral research

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2. Heap

Heap is a platform that provides its users with the right tools to capture and analyze user data both across web and mobile applications. The top-notch data visualizations offered by Heap make it stand out from competitors in the market.

behavioral research

3. Mouseflow

Mouseflow is another behavior tool that can get you juicy insights into mouse movements and all sorts of user interactions including clicks and scrolls. This tool features heatmaps and funnel reports giving researchers an unmissable opportunity to improve conversion rates.

behavioral research

4. Clevertap

Clevertap is a customer engagement tool that offers researchers the opportunity to track behavior. Boasting tools like A/B testing, UX professionals can analyze user engagement and optimize every single customer touchpoint leading to frictionless user journeys.

behavioral design

5. Google Analytics 360

Google Analytics is a popular choice among businesses. This is a robust and versatile analytics tool with a range of features including but not limited to conversion tracking, user segmentation, real-time reporting, and goal tracking providing detailed data on user behavior.

Behavioral research

6. Crazy Egg

This is another behavioral research tool featuring heatmaps, scroll maps, and confetti reports. This is a robust choice for businesses looking to optimize their digital products by leveraging behavioral research.

behavioral research

7. FullStory

FullStory is a comprehensive behavioral research tool that offers deep insights into user behavior. Its advanced search tools coupled with robust analytics features allow for quick identification of areas of improvement.

behavioral research

8. Hotjar

Hotjar is a stellar behavior analytics tool for UX professionals looking to delve into the world of behavioral analytics. Offering a wide range of features from session recordings to heatmaps, it can provide invaluable insights into user interaction.

Behavioral design

9. Amplitude

Amplitude is yet another product analytics platform that can help businesses make sense of user behavior. Including a wide range of tools such as goal completion and tracking events as well as behavior cohort analysis this is a great tool to optimize user journeys and drive growth.

Behavioral research

10. Smartlook

Finally, Smartlook is another comprehensive tool boasting session recordings and track conversion channels that can help product professionals identify sticky points and optimize the user experience.

behavioral research

Examples of Behavioral Research in Practice

Here are 3 real-life examples that have reaped the benefits of behavioral research and have seen exponential business growth:


Airbnb is one of the companies that consistently tap into behavioral research to enhance their product. Through rigorous research, the design at Airbnb has managed to leverage social proof to create a sense of trust in the platform. This strategy urges users to book more! This has been achieved through the use of verified user reviews. Additionally, badges like ‘Super Host’ or ‘Rare Find’ are awarded to listed homes based on user reviews.

Behavioral research

Source: Airbnb


Duolingo is another great example of taking full advantage of behavioral research to enhance their language learning app. The popular language learning apps use design elements and copy to gamify the language learning process. This approach creates a sense of progress and accomplishment amongst users, boosting in this way engagement with the app. All these features are certainly not arbitrary. They are more the result of rigorous behavior research analyzing user behavior at every step of the way.

Source: Duolingo


Behavioral research can help companies craft more personalized experiences that resonate with users on a more personal level. Netflix is the epitome of this as the platform is all about personalized content. Netflix is feeding its algorithm with the insights gained from continuous behavior research studies. Based on these insights, the platform presents its users with movie recommendations based on the viewer’s preferences and past choices of films.

To sum it up

Behavioral research can play a pivotal role in creating relatable, frictionless, and inclusive digital experiences for products and services alike. By taking the time to analyze user interaction, businesses have an unmissable opportunity. This opportunity allows them to streamline processes and craft tailor-made experiences that exceed user expectations and drive loyalty and engagement. Companies the likes of Airbnb, Duolingo, and Netflix have managed to reap the advantages of behavioral research and have unlocked the potential of their products.

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FAQ: Behavioral Research

What is the behavioral approach in research?

The behavioral approach in research is about observing and analyzing human behavior and gathering insights to craft memorable and relatable experiences that align with the user’s mental models.

What is the job of a behavioral researcher?

The main tasks of a behavioral researcher are to design, conduct, and analyze research studies and experiments to study human behavior in a particular context.

How do you conduct behavioral research?

There are an array of methodologies out there to conduct behavioral research. Task analysis, user testing, log analysis, contextual analysis, behavioral mapping, and observation are a few of those methods.

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