The Q-Block Method of Indexing Q Typologies
Operant Subjectivity , Volume 34 - Issue 1 p. 6- 24
William Stephenson's Q methodology has a marked advantage of bringing both system and depth into communication studies. Some communication researchers have been dismayed by its use with relatively small numbers of people, in some cases with only one person. This has raised the question of how the system and enrichment of Q can be combined with the precision of properly applied sample survey research methodology. Stephenson devoted a chapter in his book The Study of Behavior to such considerations. Direct applications of Stephenson's Q techniques may not be economically feasible for large sample survey research due to their complexity and time needed for administration and analysis. However, Stephenson suggests "that certain kinds of facts which questionnaires may seek to study can be reached along Q technique lines." He outlines one method. This paper presents an elaboration in detail of such a method. Specifically, the paper examines and presents a questionnaire technique which has utility in assigning people to Q typologies. It is a technique which can be readily applied in large sample survey research. The method involves the construction of "Q blocks," which are comparable in one sense to a series of small individual Q sorts. Detailed knowledge of a stable Q typology factor structure is necessary for construction of these Q blocks. This knowledge can be derived from direct application of Q techniques to a smaller, usually structured sample from the population in which the researcher is interested.