# EERA Workshop on Q methodology & Q factor analysis

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EERA Workshop on Q methodology & Q factor analysis
Sue Ramlo Joe Jurczyk Al Herbert Isadore Newman

Workshop Outline Introduction to Q methodology Q factor analysis
Sorting items onto a normal Gaussian distribution Concourse of items & the Q sample Analyzing the sorts using PQ Method – factors & interpretation Q factor analysis How is Q FA different from Q method? Using QUANAL to find topologies in Q FA Using PQ Method for Q FA Why groups of people?

Introduction to Q methodology - Overview
Allows a researcher to investigate the views, or perspectives, of a person or a group of people. The process involves sorting items (typically statements) into a normal Gaussian distribution. Analysis involves factor analysis that groups people, not items. FA – grouping based on correlation among the participants’ sorts.

Sorting items onto a normal Gaussian distribution
Pre-sort into 3 piles Distribute (& re-distribute) to fit specific normal Gaussian distribution. (usually most disagree to most agree) LEAST like my view (~14 statements here) MOST like my view Neutral view about this statement

Now you try it! Condition of instruction - “Because you’ve been working so hard, you have been ordered by your boss/department chairperson to take a 5-day vacation by yourself or with your family, all expenses paid. Rate the following items on a scale of “most enjoyable” (+5) to “most unenjoyable” (-5)….” Pre-sort into 3 piles Distribute (& re-distribute) to fit specific normal Gaussian distribution. (usually most disagree to most agree) Most unenjoyable (~7 items) MOST enjoyable Neutral view about this statement

Introduction to Q methodology – historical background
Developed in 1935 by William Stephenson Physicist-psychologist Student of Spearman A Study of Behavior, 1955 Q because of its philosophical similarity to the physics field of Quantum Mechanics Most often used in fields of psychology, marketing, advertising, political science… Mixes quantitative & qualitative aspects of research

Why not another method to determine views?
Alternatives for determining perspectives are not as powerful as Q. Likert scale evaluations and rank ordering lead to the loss of meaning (McKeown, 2001). Because Q measures personal opinion regarding a concourse of items related to a topic, validity is not a consideration (Brown, 1999).

What is meant by subjectivity?
What do you see? Bunny? Duck? Is one right & the other wrong or are they both just different views?

Any Q study starts with a concourse:
Can consist of words / statements, pictures, sounds, smells… Subjective Not “It’s raining” But can be “the rain makes me feel sad” –or- “I love to walk in the rain.” Items are interpreted by participant – removes the view of the researcher & the issue of validity / reliability. Select the Q sample from the concourse Try to “balance” the Q sample

Concourse of items – 3 possibilities
“Naturalistic” statements - taken from participants’ oral or written communications. Interviews Focus Groups “Ready made” statements - from sources other than those of the participants’ communications. Likert survey items Based on knowledge of researcher w/o interviews Hybrid - combine both “naturalistic” and “ready made” items. One is not inherently superior to the other (McKeown & Thomas, 1988). Researcher selects the type best suited to the project at hand

Q sample – select items from the concourse to use in the study.
Example: Selection from a Q sample of 44 (chosen from a concourse of 53) 1 What I learn from textbook depends on how I use it to study in this class. 23 I can tell when I understand the material in this class. 2 I need to learn how to study more effectively to succeed in this class. 24 I feel comfortable applying what I learned in this class to the real-world. 3 Working hard on difficult problems does not help me learn in this class. 25 Doing homework helps me learn in this class. 4 I don't have to work hard to learn in this class. 26 Reading the textbook helps me learn in this class. 5 I need to learn how to learn in this class. 27 I like the exactness of math-type subjects. 6 I have very little control over how much I learn in this course. 28 I often think about how well I understand the topics in this class. 7 In this class, if I can't understand something right away, I will keep on trying 29 What I learn in this class will help me in other classes. 8 Working with classmates inside &/or outside this class helps me learn. 30 What I learn in this class will help me when I get a job in my field.

Condition of instruction
Participants sort based upon a condition of instruction (or multiple conditions). E.g. Sort the following statements as they relate to your views about learning in this class. The statements are matters of subjective opinion and may mean different things to different people. e.g. I worked hard in this class.

Analyzing Q sorts SPSS & SAS not really designed for Q sorts – you mess with weightings, etc. Need software designed for Q methodology QUANAL PCQ PQMethod

Factor Analysis Higher order correlation
Used to determine patterns in a data set R-factor analysis groups items (people are rows, items are in columns). Factors represent similar items. Q-factor analysis groups people (people are in columns, items are in rows). The factors represent people with similar topologies. Q methodology is not Q FA but does group people based upon their VIEWS on a subject. Factors represent similar views about a topic.

PQ Method to determine factors & assist in their interpretation
Free download (start at DOS based Designed for handling Q sort entry and analyses Choices Centroid versus Principle Components factor extraction Graphical hand rotation versus Varimax Start PQMethod

Factor correlations Distinguishing statements Consensus statements, etc Example - knowledge Tech Physics sorts Ramlo 2006.lis.

Q factor analysis How is Q FA different from Q method?
Using QUANAL to find topologies in Q FA

QFA run in PQMethod Create z-scores for each item (if the items all have the same scale, skip this step). Rank order items for each person (lowest to highest) and then give a grid score (e.g 1 to 6, -2 to 2, etc). Note that PQ Method allows for a scale up to 13 places. Unlike Q sorts, QFA does not lend itself to a grid that has any columns deeper than one layer. This is important because we are analyzing the topologies of the items. The *.lis file contains similar outputs to that of QUANAL including distinguishing items for pairs of factors, consensus items, etc.

Why groups of people? If groups are known a priori, use discriminative analyses If groups are unknown, need Q FA to determine groups without sorts; Q method with sorts