Q-sorting - Psychodiagnostics. Theory and practice


This technique was developed by Stephenson Stephenson (1953) to explore the individual's self-image. The individual is given a set of cards containing statements or names of personality properties. He must distribute them to groups of most characteristic to the least common for him. The number of groups on which the subject should share cards is given by the psychologist. In each of the groups, a certain number of cards should be placed, which is determined by the values ​​of the normal distribution for the selected number of groups and the total number of cards.


If you use 100 cards, which need to be divided into five groups, the number of cards in each group will be as follows:

The least characteristic property 10 20 40 20 10 The most characteristic property

Most often, 3 to 9 groups are used to distribute cards. As with the forced choice method, Q-sorting yields subjective-personal rather than normative data. This means that the individual tells the psychologist what he considers to be his strong and weak properties, comparing them with each other, and not with how much or little they are expressed in comparison with other people or some given outside norm.

Q-sorting is used to solve a variety of psychological problems. Depending on the latter, the subject is offered to classify cards in relation to himself in various situations (for example, at home, at work, in communication with other people), and also to get information about what he really is from his point of view I am real), what it seems to other people (the social I), what it would like to be (the ideal self). Such information is collected at different stages of psychotherapy to ascertain the changes that have taken place (K. Rogers, R. Diamond). It is possible to distribute cards in relation to other people, which allows to reveal the attitude of the subject to them, and also to use for their description. In the latter case, Q-sorting options are used to obtain a comprehensive evaluation of the personality by professionally trained observers, as well as for descriptions of any category of people of interest to a psychologist (professional groups, groups with psychiatric syndromes, etc.). In addition, the principle of Q-sorting can be realized when the subject is working with different objects.

The main difficulty in the development of semantic diagnostic methods lies in the selection and unification of the meanings of words and expressions included in lists of traits, in the inevitability of their subjective interpretation by different individuals, when even a slight shift in emphasis in choosing a vocabulary in one direction or another can lead to a change and even distortion of the ideas about personal knowledge inherent in the individual.

The general lack of all the semantic techniques described above psychologists see in the fact that due to the prescription of both lists of personal traits and subjects that need to be evaluated on them, there are doubts about the reliability of their data. If the personality traits or bipolar scales on which the subject is forced to measure people are not considered by him as essential, useful, are not for him primary for making judgments about the person, the result of the diagnosis will not adequately reflect his personal knowledge (his own personality theory, expression of J. Kelly), but will be a kind of artifact.

This lack is deprived of yet another semantic approach to the diagnosis of personality, based on the use of repertoire personal techniques. They allow the individual to construct his own individual experience, reveal those subjective scales that the individual uses when perceiving, understanding and evaluating the world around him.

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