Q methodology at the July 2010 conference of the International Society of Political Psychology

The program chair for the 33rd annual conference of the International Society of Political Psychology (July 7-10, San Francisco) has announced acceptance of the following three conference events involving Q methodology:

Panel: Reintroducing Q Methodology

Abstract: Q methodology was innovated in the 1930s and its main principles and procedures, largely of a technical and statistical nature, were worked out in the context of British psychology. Subsequently, the methodology was embraced by personality, clinical, and counseling psychology in the U.S. in the 1950s and ’60s, but fell into relative disuse. It was introduced into the political and social sciences in the 1970s and was initially incorporated into research in political psychology in the ’80s. Since then, however, its popularity within political psychology has waned while at the same time gaining wider acceptance in other fields, most notably in public policy generally and health and environmental policy more specifically. The purpose of this panel is to reintroduce Q methodology to a new generation of political psychologists through the presentation of four research applications: a single-case analysis of an authoritarian personality, analysis of public reactions to President Barack Obama, evaluation of Q methodology’s utility in enhancing the persuasability of policy campaigns, and its use (in conjunction with other methods) in ameliorating inter-group violence.

Workshop: Fundamentals of Q Methodology (Organizer: Steven R Brown, Kent State University)

Q methodology emerged in the 1930s as a means for the systematic study of subjectivity and it is applicable across the entire range of human activity. Although developed in psychology, it has come to be utilized more in political science and policy, especially in the health and environmental fields, but also in other areas outside political psychology. Its use has been somewhat limited in political psychology due in part to the novel and controversial aspects of its procedures and also because of uncertainty about its technical features and the range of topics to which it can be applied. The purpose of this workshop is to provide a brief history of Q methodology and an introduction to its major principles, and then to involve participants in a brief study during which they will perform Q sorts that will then be correlated and factor analyzed using the PQMethod program. Results will be interpreted followed by a discussion of other applications in which interest is expressed. Time will also be devoted to clarifying misconceptions and to providing opportunities to discuss controversies.

Plenary Address: “The Lost Scent of Subjectivity” (Lasswell Award Address) (by Steven R Brown, Kent State University).

Steven Brown awarded the 2009 Harold Lasswell Award

Steven Brown has been named the recipient of the 2009 Harold Lasswell Award of the International Society of Political Psychology and will be presented with the award during the Society’s 32nd annual meeting July 14-17 at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. The Lasswell Award is for “distinguished scientific contribution in the field of political psychology” and is named for Harold D. Lasswell (1902-1978), who was one of the first to apply psychology to the analysis of politics. The prize also carries an invitation to the recipient to give an address in recognition of his work at the 2010 meeting of ISPP in San Francisco. Past recipients of the award, which was initiated in 1979, have included Nathan Leites, Angus Campbell, Erik Erikson, Myres McDougal, James MacGregor Burns, Alexander George, Milton Rokeach, Robert Abelson, Robert C. Tucker, Philip E. Converse, Robert E. Lane, M. Brewster Smith, Lucian Pye, David O. Sears, Fred I. Greenstein, Robert Jervis, Jim Sidanius, David Winter, and Philip Tetlock.

Well done, Steve. William Stephenson and Professor Lasswell himself — who had in his later years been sufficiently impressed by Steve’s use of Q in pursuing lines of inquiry initiated by Lasswell to urge his own studentsteo further acquaint themselves with the methodology — would be proud indeed. For those of us familiar with your work in ISSS and ISPP, this is well served, albeit long overdue recognition of a record of exceptional quality. Bravo and congratulations!