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).

Day on Q applied to policy process theories and frameworks

Day, Shane (2008, Summer). Applications of Q methodology to a variety of policy process theories and frameworks. International Journal of Organization Theory and Behavior, 11(2), 141-171.

Abstract: This paper provides an overview of a form of factor analysis, Q methodology, and suggests how it might be applied in an institutional analysis setting. Q methodology provides for a middle ground between positivist and phenomenological methods, and that its usage will not necessarily result in overly contextualized findings that render generalization impossible. The paper’s primary focus is to suggest several uses of Q methodology within different established policy studies frameworks, namely the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) Framework, the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF), and the policy process as conceptualized by Lasswell’s Policy Sciences approach.

Shane Day is a doctoral candidate in the Joint Ph.D. Program in Public Policy, School of Public and Environmental Affairs and Department of Political Science, Indiana University, Bloomington. His teaching and research interests are in public policy, international relations, environmental policy, identity politics, and the politics of indigenous groups.