Q-sort, Q sort

Q-methodology (also known as Q-sort) is the systematic study of participant viewpoints. Q-methodology is used to investigate the perspectives of participants who represent different stances on an issue, by having participants rank and sort a series of statements.

 Participant responses are analysed using factor analysis. Unlike standard uses of factor analysis (often called R Methodology), the variables are individuals not traits. There are five basic steps in setting up this methodology

  1. Definition of the domain of discourse on the particular issue;
  2. Development of the set of statements (Q-sort);
  3. Selection of the participants representing different perspectives;
  4. Q sort by participants; and
  5. Analysis and interpretation.

Q-sort is a mixed methodology. It uses the qualitative judgements of the researcher in defining the problem, developing statements to investigate the perspectives of participants (some of the statements may be developed after interviewing key informants), and selecting participants. It uses quantitative options of analysis. It can be very helpful in unearthing perspectives without requiring participants to articulate these clearly themselves. It is a useful complement to a range of other objective evaluation measures. For example, Q-methodology can be used to examine teacher’s perspectives on teaching as part of an evaluation of a school district. Other evaluation measures can include test scores, attendance and completion.




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Updated: 14th January 2014 - 1:50am
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Anonymous's picture
syed saeed

I have read the Q- sort. it is very useful for the analysis of the viewpoints and given statements of the participants. there are five steps- concourse building, Q- Sample, Q- Sort, scrutiny through PQ software and analysis. I could not find the the software. plz I need.

Anonymous's picture
Asad Raza

why the executive level of corporate governance organization used q-sort method??

Alice Macfarlan's picture
Alice Macfarlan

Hi Asad,

The q-sort methodology can be used in a variety of situations. Did you have a particular example of use or question about a situation you needed some advice on?

Kind regards,


BetterEvaluation Website Coordinator

Anonymous's picture
Rosario Figueira

Hi Ms. Mcfarlan,

I am working on a Research project for the Capstone Program at my high school.

I would like to know how to exactly incorporate this methodology in my subject:

American Consumerism and Wastage and Its Affect on the Environment.

Would I use a surveying system to build my Q-sample? If so, what kind of statements would I include to get their perspective on consumerism/wastage?

Thank you,

Rosario Figueira

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