Lien, Aaron M., George Ruyle, & Laura López-Hoffman (2018, April). Q methodology: A method for understanding complex viewpoints in communities served by extension. Journal of Extension, 56(2), art. 2IAW4 (online). (Link:

Abstract:This article introduces Q methodology, an idea-sorting activity that can help Extension improve outreach and education on new and contentious issues. Q methodology is a helpful tool when Extension professionals are confronted with controversial or complex resource management challenges. Through the analysis of a simple card-sorting exercise, researchers can determine quantitatively and qualitatively how different issues combine to result in (a) an individual’s viewpoint on an issue and (b) groupings of different viewpoints within a community. We describe the basic approach to implementing Q methodology and suggest circumstances in which it can help facilitate Extension outreach and education.

Aaron M Lien <> is in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ (USA).