Introduction to Q-Methodology

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William Stephenson


Q methodology has been influenced in fundamental ways by the works of
Freud, Spearman, and Fisher. Freud's pleasure/pain principle is
incorporated into the Q-sorting operation, and concern with morality can
be traced to studies on factor W (character) in Spearman's laboratory.
The reality principle, also Freud's, joined with training in physics
which led to self reference in explaining consciousness. Self reference,
in turn, draws its first principle from Peirce - that ideas, unlike
facts, spread in human communicability and form concourses, all of which
can be conceptualized in terms of Fisherian designs. An example is
given in which a thousand quotations about women are structured as to
feeling (pleasure/unpleasure), morality, and reality. Self reference is
not in the structure, however, but is quantified in the Q sorting, which
is why variance analysis, with its classical emphasis on causality and
prediction, is bypassed in favor of factor analysis, which incorporates
operationalism and is compatible with more modern scientific theories of
relativity, quantum mechanics and uncertainty.

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How to Cite
Stephenson, W. (1993). Introduction to Q-Methodology. Operant Subjectivity, 17(1/2). Retrieved from