Q methodology is the scientific study of subjectivity. Subjectivity is “a person’s communication of his or her point of view” (McKeown & Thomas, 1988, p. 12). Q methodology provides a quantitative means to study a participant’s point of view or beliefs. Q-study research usually involves a small number of participants. Some Q studies are developed around a single participant. In a Q study, each respondent sorts a number of statements about a subject (the Q-sample) along a continuum, according to a condition of instruction. The respondent may be asked to sort the Q-sample from “most unlike me” (-5) to “most like me” (+5). In some cases, the condition of instruction may be to sort the Q-sample according to how they think someone else might sort it, or how it would be sorted in an “ideal” world. Q-sample statements may be culled from media reports, interviews, talk shows, letters to the editor, previous research, and a variety other sources. A researcher conducting a Q study on people’s attitudes toward the First Amendment might include such statements in the Q-sample as:
• The media should have the right to say and print whatever it wants, regardless of truth.
• The media have the responsibility of verifying the truth of all information before broadcasting.
• An unrestricted media is the hallmark of a free society.
• Pornography should be outlawed.
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