Q-Sort: A Blended Methodology Applied to a Personality Inventory





Q-sort methodology, Data analysis methodology, Social research, Human perspectives, Personality


The instruments that are constituted by inquiries that intend to investigate the opinions, behaviors and attitudes, instead of putting the person to the test, intend to find out how they would act in a given situation. Although there are no right or wrong answers, there is a tendency to respond in a socially acceptable way, even if the answer does not correspond to reality. This problem can be overcome through the Q-sort methodology that combines quantitative and qualitative data and analytical techniques that are not present in other methods. In this way, it consists of presenting the participants with a set of statements on a given topic and asking them to classify them according to their opinion, according to a predefined distribution, which is generally approximately normal. This methodology forces participants to distribute the score among the items on the scale, thus avoiding the constraints associated with social desirability and the tendency to respond in the same way or always through the midpoint to different questions. Another advantage is that it provides linearity and near-normality to the scale, which makes it possible to compare subjects more easily. Nevertheless, its advantages, Q-sort methodology also has negative points because forced-choice measures produce ipsative data that lead to distorted scales and problematic psychometric properties. As the data are obtained by ordering a set of items or by forcefully choosing one item over another, it is impossible to achieve very high or very low values on all scales, which gives rise to a large number of negative values that, in turn, result in an average correlation between the scales, which is also negative. In view of the above, it was considered relevant to apply the Q-sort methodology to a personality inventory, whose data were collected from 175 university students attending the Portuguese higher education institution which specializes in the area of economic and business sciences. The Q-sort methodology plays a crucial role in personality inventories by offering a subjective and personalized approach to assessing personality traits. It enables a more thorough and contextual analysis of individual traits, thereby contributing to a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the human personality. The results of the empirical study showed that despite the mean values being negative or very close to zero, they allowed the grouping of respondents according to their similarities in terms of their personality traits depending on the course they attend.

Author Biographies

Rosa Rodrigues, Instituto Superior de Gestão – Business & Economics School, Lisboa, Portugal

PhD in Management, specialization in Human Resources and Organizational Behavior from ISCTE-IUL. Professor at the Instituto Superior de Gestão – Economics & Business School where teaches in the Bachelor and Master degrees. Research areas include organizational behaviour, human resource management, work and organizational psychology, psychological evaluation, soft skills, and test construction and validation.

Paula Lopes, Lusofona University / CICANT - Centre for Research in Applied Communication, Culture, and New Technologies, Lisboa, PortugalLisboa, Portugal

Paula Lopes, has a PHD in Communication and Advertising, is a full Professor at Lusófona University and Instituto Superior de Gestão – Economics & Business School. Has been Course Coordinator since 2015. She’s a researcher in CICANT - - Centre for Research in Applied Communication, Culture, and New Technologies, and the main research areas are Marketing, Integrated marketing Communication (IMC), Luxury Brands, Social Networks and Advertising.

Miguel Varela, Instituto Superior de Gestão – Business & Economics School, Lisboa, Portugal

Miguel Varela, born in Lisbon on March 27, 1971 (50 years old), is the Director and President of the Scientific Council of the Instituto Superior de Gestão (ISG).

He has about two hundred publications in opinion and scientific journals and magazines and several published books. He has an aggregate degree in Business Economics (2008) and a PhD in Economics (2004). He has a master's degree in Organizational Systems of Economic Activity (1997), having completed a degree in Economics in 1994.

He has been a full professor at ISG since 2010/2011. He was a member of higher education evaluation committees in the late 1990s. He coordinated several master's and undergraduate courses at several universities throughout his career. He guided and integrated around 200 academic examination boards for dissertations and theses. He has been a speaker at dozens of national and international conferences. He also served as a consultant for several companies, was a businessman in the field of communication, is a member of the Assembly of Representatives of the Order of Economists and the respective Professional Council, is a member of the Jury of the 1st Section of Self-Regulation of Advertising and was assistant to the Minister of Economy of the XV Constitutional Government.




17 Jul 2023