A Brief Introduction to Q Methodology

A Brief Introduction to Q Methodology

Yang Yang (Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJAVET.2016040104
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Q methodology is a method to systematically study subjective matters such as thoughts and beliefs on any given topic. Q methodology can be used for both theory building and theory testing. The purpose of this paper was to give a brief overview of Q methodology to readers with various backgrounds. This paper discussed several advantages of Q methodology that makes it attractive to researchers and practitioners who are interested in understanding different perspectives or behavioral patterns toward any given topic, its distinct position as a methodology, and how it fits into the qualitative—mixed—quantitative continuum. The paper further used two research studies as applications to demonstrate how to perform a Q methodological study, involving the following steps: development of the Q sort statements; selection of the P set (participants); Q sorting; and analysis and interpretation of Q sorts.
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Q’S Position In Research Methodology

William Stephenson, a British psychologist and physicist, first introduced Q in the journal Nature in 1935 as a unique way to measure human subjectivity. Q as a methodology has mostly been in a controversial position in the social science fields since then (Ramlo, 2015). Some treat Q as a qualitative approach since it studies human subjectivity. Others consider it a quantitative approach as it involves rigorous statistical analyses. With mixed methods research gaining popularity in the last two decade (Creswell, 2010), Q has become more accepted as a mixed method (Ramlo, 2015).

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