Exploration

Date of publication: June 15, 1969

Author: Peter Sampson

Abstract:

This paper is in two parts. Part one is concerned with a consideration of exploratory research techniques, in particular, 'depth' or intensive interviewing and group interviewing. It is argued that if expertly conducted, they can be extremely valuable techniques applicable to a wide range of problems. It is further contended that the often expressed viewpoint that such techniques are very limited because they are very subjective, is not necessarily true. Given a particular context, and bearing in mind the limitations of the data provided, a good deal of objectivity is attainable. Part two describes a small-scale experiment to compare data obtained from group discussions with data obtained from an alternative technique - the method of rotated triads for the same problem. For the problem in question there was little to choose between the two sets of data, and it is concluded that either approach would have been viable. On balance, it is felt that in terms of cost and time, and when taking into account additional information, for this particular exercise group discussions would have been the 'best buy'. However, one would not expect this to be so in all circumstances, and there is a very strong case for more research to be done which would throw light upon the specific circumstances under which one technique is to be preferred. Further observations are made about the likely differential ability of 'convergent' and 'divergent' thinkers to perform on repertory grid interviews, and some tentative hypotheses are made.

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