The Issue of Generalization in Q Methodology: "Reliable Schematics" Revisited
Research employing Q technique and its attendant methodology has long encountered criticism targeted on the allegedly specious, "non-generalizable" nature of such findings. Drawn typically from small-sample investigations of human subjectivity, wherein respondents supply data through Q sorts composed of items of unknown reliability, findings of Q studies are considered by many to fall far short of the minimal criteria for scientific measurement. Issues of generalization in Q methodology, it is argued, are amenable to examination in terms of the notion of "reliable schematics." Findings from two pairs of "tandem-study" explorations bear strong witness to the schematically reliable character of Q-study results produced from differing probes of the same subjective phenomenon. Viewed against this backdrop, the frequently voiced concerns over reliability issues stemming from the use of Q would appear quite exaggerated if not altogether unfounded.