Lovett, Jon C., Aseel A. Takshe, & Fatma Kamkar (2021, May). Evaluation of environmental policy with Q methodology. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science. (ePub in advance of print) (doi: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199389414.013.713) (Link: (Access:

Abstract: Environmental policy is often characterized by differences of opinion and polarized perceptions. This holds for all groups involved in lobbying, creating, implementing, and researching policy. Q methodology is a technique originally developed by William Stephenson in the 1930s for work in psychology as an alternative to R methodology, which was dominant at the time. R methodology involves gathering scores from subjects being analyzed, such as those generated by intelligence tests, and then correlating the scores with factors such as gender or ethnicity. Obviously, the scores are heavily dependent on the choice of questions set by the researcher in the tests. In contrast, Q methodology commonly uses statements generated by the participants of the study, and it is these that the subjects are asked to score. This helps to avoid the type of bias that might result from a researcher formulating the statements presented to the subjects, though it is important to note that researcher bias is also present in Q methodology through selection of the statements and the type of quantitative analysis used. In studies involving evaluation of environmental policy, Q methodology is typically used to elicit opinions from subjects by scoring participant statements obtained from interviews or statements from secondary sources such as written reports, news articles, or images. These scores are then correlated using factor analysis, and statements that group together are compiled to create discourses about different aspects of the environmental policy under evaluation.

Jon C Lovett <> is in the School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK. Aseel Takshe <> is in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Faculty of Communication, Arts and Sciences, Canadian University Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Fatma Kamkar <> is in the Faculty of Health Sciences, Canadian University Dubai, United Arab Emirates.