Title

Q methodology: A Research Method for Studying Occupation

Presenter Information

Susan Corr

Start Time

16-10-2002 12:00 AM

End Time

18-10-2002 12:00 AM

Abstract

When studying occupation it is necessary to consider methods that enable a researcher to gain a greater understanding of individuals. Q methodology is a quantitative method for analysing qualitative data, based on viewpoints. It enables researchers to focus on the qualitative, subjective aspects of the participants while combining the strengths of both qualitative and quantitative methods (Brown, 1996). Using Q methodology, it is possible to examine life as lived from the standpoint of the person living it, to identify characteristics of individuals who share common viewpoints and to measure arrays of attitudes at a certain point in time or measure attitudinal changes over time (Brown 1996). This method has been used in the United States, and to a lesser extent in Britain, by a broad range of researchers including psychologists, social scientists, educationalists, political scientists and other health care professionals but no published literature suggests that it has been used to study occupations. This paper will provide an outline of its process, that is, developing a Q sort pack (a number of items representing the range of ideas on a topic), administering the sort (asking participants to rank the ideas with reference to their own views), analysing the data (looking for patterns in the way that individuals respond) and interpreting the results. It will also illustrate the method by using the example of a study which explored banking executive’s perceptions of balance in relation to their occupations. The strengths and limitations of the methodology will also be presented. Q methodology is a research tool that is appropriate to use in the study of peoples' perceptions. It deserves careful consideration by occupational scientists for its potential use as a research method.

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Oct 16th, 12:00 AM Oct 18th, 12:00 AM

Q methodology: A Research Method for Studying Occupation

When studying occupation it is necessary to consider methods that enable a researcher to gain a greater understanding of individuals. Q methodology is a quantitative method for analysing qualitative data, based on viewpoints. It enables researchers to focus on the qualitative, subjective aspects of the participants while combining the strengths of both qualitative and quantitative methods (Brown, 1996). Using Q methodology, it is possible to examine life as lived from the standpoint of the person living it, to identify characteristics of individuals who share common viewpoints and to measure arrays of attitudes at a certain point in time or measure attitudinal changes over time (Brown 1996). This method has been used in the United States, and to a lesser extent in Britain, by a broad range of researchers including psychologists, social scientists, educationalists, political scientists and other health care professionals but no published literature suggests that it has been used to study occupations. This paper will provide an outline of its process, that is, developing a Q sort pack (a number of items representing the range of ideas on a topic), administering the sort (asking participants to rank the ideas with reference to their own views), analysing the data (looking for patterns in the way that individuals respond) and interpreting the results. It will also illustrate the method by using the example of a study which explored banking executive’s perceptions of balance in relation to their occupations. The strengths and limitations of the methodology will also be presented. Q methodology is a research tool that is appropriate to use in the study of peoples' perceptions. It deserves careful consideration by occupational scientists for its potential use as a research method.