Probing the Subjective Communicability of an Unfolding Presidential Scandal: A Q Study of the Clinton/Lewinsky Affair
This paper reports the results from a pair of Q studies designed to probe the subjective communicability accompanying the so-called "Lewinsky scandal. " The first phase of the research was undertaken approximately one month after the initial reports aired alleging a sexual relationship between President Bill Clinton and the twenty-four-year-old White House intern. This "First Wave," based on a sample of Iowa college students, discovered six separate versions of the developments and their Significance. The "Second Wave," utilizing the same Q sample, was conducted two months later, finding four factors from the Q sorts of the Indiana respondents. Comparisons of the two data sets reveal similarities and differences between popular constructions of the scandal during its initial phases and four months into the story's coverage. Factors from both studies are interpreted in light of their distinguishing subjectivity, and in terms of the light they shed on the unusual and unanticipated trajectory of strong public support for the Clinton presidency coupled with highly unfavorable news coverage over the course of the scandal. Furthermore, the four factors from the second study bear a striking resemblance to factors discovered by other Q studies conducted in different locales near the end of the impeachment spectacle. We conclude by considering and speculating on the significance among the factors of sharply antagonistic sentiment toward prominent principals (other than the President) who were involved the spectacle.
Dan Thomas, Ph.D., & Larry R. Baas, Ph.D. (2002). Probing the Subjective Communicability of an Unfolding Presidential Scandal: A Q Study of the Clinton/Lewinsky Affair. Operant Subjectivity, 25(2), 59–98. doi:10.15133/j.os.2002.001