CONVERSATION, General characteristics and types of conversation...


As a result of studying this chapter, students will:


• the essence and types of conversation as a method of scientific psychological research, its possibilities and limitations;

• the ratio of methods of observation and conversation, the advantages of conversation as a scientific method;

• the main stages and principles of the organization of the conversation as a scientific method in psychology;

be able to

• Develop a conversation program;

• determine the overall strategy and tactics of conducting a conversation with the goal of collecting new scientific data in psychology;


• The skills of conducting and analyzing the conversation protocol.

General characteristics and types of conversation (interview) in psychological research

Conversation is one of the main scientific methods in social spiders in general and psychology in particular. In general, the conversation can be defined as a method of data collection, as well as an impact method based on the use of verbal communication. The conversation is applied in all spheres of the psychologist's activity without exception: in psychotherapy and psychocorrection, in psychodiagnostics, in research activities, etc.

In this chapter, we will discuss the conversation only as an instrument for conducting psychological research, leaving behind the discussion of the peculiarities of its application in psychotherapeutic and psychocorrectional work. An important difference here is that in psychotherapeutic work one of the main purposes of using a conversation is to influence the interlocutor, resulting in a change in the latter. In the same research activity, the conversation is considered solely as a method of obtaining data, not involving the implementation of an impact.

The method of conversation is very multidimensional and is realized with the help of a large number of different methods. This method is used to obtain both qualitative and quantitative data, depending on which is used both in the study of single cases or small samples, and in the study of a large number of subjects. In addition, the conversation takes different forms depending on how, who and when asks questions, how it receives answers and what questions are asked.

In general, research methods that can be considered as modifications to the method of conversation can be divided into two main types - interviews (from English, interview) and polls (in survey. This division is due to the type of data that results from their application and the design features of the study.

Interview (high-quality personal interviews) are mainly conducted to collect quality information, are used in the study of small samples of subjects or in the study of individual cases. The interview is a specific form of the conversation, implying the personal interaction of the researcher (interviewer) and the respondent (respondent) and aimed at discussing topics of interest to the researcher from a scientific perspective, and the respondent from the position of the opportunity to share personal experiences, opinions, views, e. In this form of research, the interpersonal interaction between the interviewer and the respondent is very important, and the interviews themselves are quite lengthy.

Surveys are usually used to conduct research on large samples of subjects and are aimed at collecting primarily quantitative information. Polls can be conducted with the help of personal or telephone interviews, as well as in writing in the form of absentee surveys or questionnaires (when the respondent needs to answer the questions formulated in advance in writing, and the direct interaction of the researcher and the respondent is not implied). When conducting polls on large samples, the interpersonal interaction between the researcher and the respondent plays less important role, and great attention is paid to unification of the survey procedure for all respondents.

In psychology, preference is given more often to methods of qualitative interview, while surveys are the main tool of other social sciences (sociology, political science, etc.), although they are also used in social and psychological research. Depending on the specifics of the problem being studied, as well as the goals and objectives of the study, preference can be given to different types of conversation.

In the focus of this chapter is a qualitative personal interview, and in the future we will use the terms conversation and interview as synonyms. Although the general ideas related to interviewing features described here are mainly applicable to interviewing, for them there are also some features that will not be discussed in this manual. For their

We refer you to the relevant literature, for example, to the works of MV Melnikova, GM Breslav, VA Yadov, and others.

So, we will consider the conversation as a dialogue between people, allowing one person to find out psychological characteristics, opinions, autobiographical information, etc. another person on the basis of an exchange of verbal messages.

Using the conversation method allows you to get a huge amount of diverse information that often can not be obtained through the use of other methods. Where observation and experiment can provide only indirect information about the issues of interest to the researcher, the conversation can be the most direct way of obtaining data: you simply ask the person about everything that interests you. The conversation is especially indispensable in cases where other methods can not be applied in principle. For example, if you are interested in the content of dreams or subjective states of a person that are not reflected in his behavior, you can not use any other research approach for this.

Conversation is the only method that allows you to directly obtain information about the thoughts, opinions, preferences and point of view of the respondent, as well as such phenomenological information as his perception of himself and the surrounding reality that he perceives. The conversation is convenient for conducting mental experiments , when you offer the subject to simulate a situation and find out how he would act and feel at the same time. Thus, conversation is a universal method of research with a very wide range of applications.

Given all the advantages and disadvantages of this method, it is necessary to clearly understand in what situations it follows, and in what should not be used, and also in what cases the data obtained with its help can be trusted, and in which it is impossible.

Due to its high nonspecificity, the method of conversation, as well as the method of observation, can be used at different stages of the research process and in different qualities:

• It can be used to conduct a primary research of any problem that will help to understand in general how to approach it in future (study interviews);

• can be the main and only method of research (when all information collected in the study is based only on interviewing);

• Usually, along with observation, it is used as an integral part of field research (when, for example, the characteristics of any social groups are studied);

• It can also be used as a way to measure a dependent variable when conducting experiments.

In addition, conversations are conducted at the first stage of designing psychodiagnostic questionnaires. They are also used in conducting postexperimental surveys that make it possible to clarify the thoughts and feelings experienced by the subjects during the experiment and to elucidate possible conjectures about the hypotheses tested in the experiment.

The application of the method of conversation, in spite of its universality, may in some cases be unjustified. For example, when it is assumed in a short time to study a large number of subjects or if more reliable data can be obtained by other methods (for example, observation). It is also not advisable to conduct a conversation when there is a suspicion that the information received from the respondents may be distorted or inadvertently distorted by them, and also if the subjects by definition can not give a self-report on the issues of interest to the researcher (for example, in the study of children, people with psychopathology or m.).

Conducting a conversation can at first glance seem very similar to a normal conversation, but in reality the interview is different from talking on a number of important parameters.

First of all, from the point of view of the existence of a goal. In ordinary conversation, the goal, as a rule, is not explicitly explicated, it is possible to guess about pei during the course of communication, sometimes conversations generally may not have a goal more concrete than the "implementation of communication". In the course of a conversation, a wide range of topics can be touched upon, while themes can be born and appear during the conversation. Topics for conversation are usually not planned in advance and are not moderated in the process of communication. When conducting the interview, the goal is thought out and formulated in advance and explicitly announced to the respondent. In general, the purpose of the interview is to obtain information from the respondent. The topics whose information the interviewer is interested in are also formulated in advance.

In an interview, unlike a conversation, roles are more clearly distributed between participants. In the interview interview, the interviewer takes a more active position, it is he who asks questions and manages the course of the conversation. The interviewee should answer questions, and they can be asked only at the special invitation of the interviewer (for example, this is often suggested at the end of the interview). In the usual conversation, both participants can ask questions, answer them, change topics of communication. When conducting a conversation, the respondent speaks much more than the interviewer, while in a normal conversation this is not clearly regulated.

As to how communication itself is built, the conversation is also very different from a simple conversation. So, usually in a simple conversation very short answers are used, and the entire conversation is built on the basis of known to all its participants implicit knowledge that is not spoken explicitly. At the same time, in the interview, on the contrary, the answers should be as comprehensive as possible, and all implied information should be explicitly stated so that it can really be understood and analyzed by other people.

In addition, in the conversation there is usually no repetition: the topic, discussed at some point, is no longer pronounced further. In the interview, replays are used as special methods to check the reliability of answers, the sincerity of the respondent, and also to find out more information. Often the same content question can be formulated in different ways and asked in different parts of the interview, and this can lead to the detection of illogicality in the respondent's answers or to finding out new information that was not previously provided.

Also We Can Offer!

Other services that we offer

If you don’t see the necessary subject, paper type, or topic in our list of available services and examples, don’t worry! We have a number of other academic disciplines to suit the needs of anyone who visits this website looking for help.

How to ...

We made your life easier with putting together a big number of articles and guidelines on how to plan and write different types of assignments (Essay, Research Paper, Dissertation etc)