Q Methodology (Q) is a complete methodology which involves technique (sorting), method (factor analysis), philosophy, ontology, and epistemology. Q reveals and describes divergent views in a group as well as consensus. Q was created by William Stephenson (1902-1989) who possessed PhDs in physics (1926) and psychology (1929) and studied psychometrics with Charles Spearman, the creator of the factor analysis.
“Our concern, however, is not to be with Q-technique alone, or even principally. Rather, it is with a challenge to psychology, in certain of its aspects, to put its house in scientific order. We are to consider a methodology to serve this purpose. We call it “Q-methodology.” This is a set of statistical, philosophy-of-science, and psychological principles which, we believe, is such as is demanded by the present scientific situation in the psychological and social sciences. Factor analysis is to be reformulated. With respect to the philosophy of science, we shall find Q-methodology in comport with logical analysis in all important methodological aspects,· except such as have led to the excesses of reductionism”Stephenson, 1953, Study of Behaviour, p. 1
“Fundamentally, Q Methodology provides a foundation for the systematic study of subjectivity, and it is this central feature which recommends it to persons interested in qualitative aspects of human behavior . Only subjective opinions are at issue in Q, and although they are typically unprovable, they can nevertheless be shown to have structure and form, and it is the task of Q-technique to make the form manifest for purposes of observation and study”Brown, 1986, p.58