Editor’s note: Jennifer Adams is the SVP, Digital Hives at Big Village. This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared under the title “Reaching the Right-Brain with Digital Hives.”

Traditional qualitative research has long been obsessed with “why.” Why did you, Consumer A, make that decision? Why did you buy this, but not that? Why is that concept preferred over the other? And certainly, why matters. But “why,” like its quantitative counterpart “what,” is grounded resolutely and superficially in the immediate past and falls short in cultivating the empathy required to truly understand the messy emotions, the chaotic maelstrom of sheer humanness, that propels us into the “what’s next.”

In periods of relative calm and order, “what happened” and “why did it happen” are logical questions, left-brained signposts to a predictable, visible future. But what about when things aren’t so calm and orderly? What about when big change comes and the future gets murkier, emotions get higher, logic comes up short and the only way to truly get to “what’s next” is through right-brained empathy, ingenuity and creativity?

If we look at the data of Jennifer Adams over the past year, we’d see that my personal expenditures in the wellness category have skyrocketed. I’ve shopped Whole Foods online and Thrive Market for the first time, I’ve bought an infrared sauna blanket and joined a vegan meal delivery service. I’ve purchased 20 new cookbooks, joined a new gym, bought an Apple Watch, new sneakers and downloaded the Calm app. Now, you could make some suppositions, or you could even ask me why. I’d tell you the logical reason: I received a serious autoimmune diagnosis and started doing my own research into holistic healing. That would give you one piece of the picture…but what would it tell you about what I need – practically and emotionally? What would it tell you about how I am feeling and how those fee...