[Description] [Pros] [Cons] [Common Uses] [Resources]


This tool is a qualitative method of data collection that is essentially a three-person focus group with a moderator. Several triads maybe be needed to ensure that a diverse set of beliefs and opinions are obtained from a target audience.

Because fewer individuals are involved, the triad interview often takes less time than a focus group and usually runs 45 to 60 minutes. Because there are fewer participants, triads offer an opportunity to hear each participants views in more depth, and is a good way to test more complex materials.


  • Has many of the “pros” of focus groups, but allows for less contamination than larger focus groups while enabling the participants to focus on the ideas being tested
  • More triads can be conducted in the same amount of time as focus groups
  • More in-depth information can be obtained from each individual participant than in a focus group
  • Disruptive or unproductive respondents can be more easily controlled than in a focus group
  • More easily mirror the dynamics of human conversation that takes place in small groups than in larger groups
  • More easily conducted in natural settings, such as a small room, than are focus groups (which necessitate larger conference rooms)
  • Very useful with teenagers, especially with ‘paired friend’ interviews.


  • Findings not generalizable
  • Respondents may be concerned about lack of anonymity
  • Can be labor intensive and expensive, especially if triads are conducted in multiple locations.

Common Uses

  • Explore complex topics with target audience prior to program
  • Learn about feelings, attitudes, motivators, past experiences related to a health topic
  • Test complex concepts, messages, and materials
  • Can generate and test hypothesis.


Quirk’s Marketing Research Review
Qualitative Research Consultants Association

See a topline report of results from triad groups about Medicare’s nursing home nutrition and hydration campaign: SOC_triadreport.pdf