Q Technique and Questionnaires
Q methodology is based upon small numbers of cases, but small-sample analyses can be useful in the prior structuring of questionnaires for administration to large samples. An illustration is provided of a study of reaction to the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, which produced four Q factors that were initially characterized both in terms of the subjectivity involved as well as their connections to demographic variables. Statements that distinguished the factors were then placed in a questionnaire that was administered by telephone to a randomly selected sample of 81 students. Indices of factor membership were calculated in terms of the questionnaire responses to the distinguishing statements, and the connection of these factor categories to other variables were then determined through conventional hypothesis testing. The survey results reaffirm the limitation of Q methodology in reaching dependable conclusions about proportions and trait associations that require larger numbers of observations, but they also showed Q’s authority in the subjective domain as well as its utility in improving the functional utility of questionnaires.