Connecting Q & surveys: three methods to explore factor membership in large samples

Rachel M. Baker, Job van Exel, Helen Mason, Michael Stricklin

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Q methodology as invented by Stephenson (Stephenson, 1953) was “designed to assist in the orderly examination of human subjectivity” (Brown, 1980, p. 5). Q incorporates quantitative factor analytic methods into a broadly qualitative, interpretive framework (Brown, 1996) and is perhaps one of few truly mixed methodologies (Stenner and Stainton Rogers, 2004). Q techniques are usually applied to research questions of a qualitative kind, typically: “What is the nature of attitudes and beliefs held by community (or individual) X on the subject of Y”. Each participant expresses her point of view by sorting a set of items. Factor analyses based on the correlations between all participants’ Q sorts are used to identify underlying value sets and shared beliefs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-58
Number of pages21
JournalOperant Subjectivity: The International Journal of Q Methodology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


  • Q methodology
  • surveys
  • health economics


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