Subjective Behavior Analysis

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Steven R. Brown


Q methodology was developed in the 1930s and has become increasingly utilized as a means for examining subjective behavior in a rigorous and naturalistic way. One of the advantages of Q methodology is its utility in examining single cases, which, when conjoined with the mathematics of factor analysis, reveals parallels with quantum theory. An illustration is presented from a study of national identity in which spontaneous and indeterminate expressions of national sentiment are selected from interviews and gathered into a Q sample, which is then administered as a Q sort to a small group of participants. Factor analysis of the data reveals identities expressed as national pride, shame, and apprehension. A second study on authoritarianism illustrates the presence of quantum effects revealed in the subjective communicability of a representative personality to which the same Q sort is administered under multiple conditions of instruction, which demonstrates diverse response functions emerging as equivalent to the interference effects of quantum experiments.

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Brown, S. R. (2002). Subjective Behavior Analysis. Operant Subjectivity, 25(3/4). Retrieved from