Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.15, No.4, 1999. pp. 495–516
Toward a Social Psychological Programme for Improving Focus Group Methods of Developing Questionnaires
Katherine Bischoping and Jennifer Dykema
Abstract:Although focus groups are being used increasingly by survey and market researchers who
are developing questionnaires, research to evaluate focus group methodology is scant and
the social psychological dimensions of focus group processes are insufficiently examined.
We review social psychological research in the areas of non-verbal communication, gender
and interaction, interaction process analysis, and brainstorming groups. We demonstrate
how this research is relevant to three elements of focus group methods: group composition,
group size, and moderator training. We conclude that social psychological research raises
several fundamental questions about commonsensical focus group practices and, accordingly,
sketch out the priorities for a social psychologically motivated research programme that
would address these issues.
Keywords:Survey methodology; questionnaire development; focus groups; social
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