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William Stephenson's Q methodology has a marked advantage of bringing both
system and depth into communication studies. Some communication
researchers have been dismayed by its use with relatively small numbers
of people, in some cases with only one person. This has raised the
question of how the system and enrichment of Q can be combined with the
precision of properly applied sample survey research methodology.
Stephenson devoted a chapter in his book The Study of Behavior to such
considerations. Direct applications of Stephenson's Q techniques may not
be economically feasible for large sample survey research due to their
complexity and time needed for administration and analysis. However,
Stephenson suggests "that certain kinds of facts which questionnaires
may seek to study can be reached along Q technique lines." He outlines
one method. This paper presents an elaboration in detail of such a
method. Specifically, the paper examines and presents a questionnaire
technique which has utility in assigning people to Q typologies. It is a
technique which can be readily applied in large sample survey research.
The method involves the construction of "Q blocks," which are
comparable in one sense to a series of small individual Q sorts.
Detailed knowledge of a stable Q typology factor structure is necessary
for construction of these Q blocks. This knowledge can be derived from
direct application of Q techniques to a smaller, usually structured
sample from the population in which the researcher is interested.