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Advantages of Focus Groups. Socially oriented research method Flexible High face validity Speedy results Low in cost. Disadvantages of Focus Groups. Less control than individual interviews. Data can be difficult to analyze. Moderators must be skilled. Disadvantages of Focus Groups.

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Advantages of focus groups
Advantages of Focus Groups

  • Socially oriented research method

  • Flexible

  • High face validity

  • Speedy results

  • Low in cost


Disadvantages of focus groups
Disadvantages of Focus Groups

  • Less control than individual interviews.

  • Data can be difficult to analyze.

  • Moderators must be skilled.


Disadvantages of focus groups1
Disadvantages of Focus Groups

  • Difference between groups can be troublesome.

  • Groups are difficult to assemble.

  • Discussion must be conducted in a conducive environment.


What is a focus group
What is a Focus Group?

  • Been in use for over 50 years

  • Homogeneous Group recruited carefully

  • 6-15 people

  • 90-120 minutes

  • Non-threatening environment

  • Skilled Moderator

  • Rapporteur

  • Questions and protocol should be pretested


Focus groups in social science
Focus Groups in Social Science

  • Initially looked down upon

  • Ward, Bertrand, and Brown (1991) find that surveys and focus groups produce similar results

  • Basch (1987) suggest focus groups are an easy way to learn about sensitive topics

  • Not useful for testing hypotheses


James kahan s article
James Kahan’s Article

  • Describes 4 policy studies that use focus groups

    • Netherlands River Dike Strengthening

    • Gays in the Military

    • Training Quality Assurance in Blood Banking

    • Safety of Schiphol Airport


Netherlands dikes
Netherlands Dikes

  • 5 focus groups

    • Environmental activists

    • Environmental advocates

    • Public Officials

    • People who live along the dikes

    • People who live in the cities (pay the taxes)

  • Many similarities in perspectives between groups


Gays in the military
Gays in the Military

  • Research team of 25 (3 months)

    • History of gays in the U.S. Military

    • History of integration of minorities and women

    • How other militaries handles the issue

    • How police and fire departments handle issue

    • Estimated the risk of AIDS and other diseases

    • Review literature on social cohesion and unit performance

    • Analyze public opinion polls

    • Conduct focus groups of military personnel


Airport safety
Airport Safety

Two parts of the study:

Objective risk/safety assessment

Focus group of public perceptions of safety

8 focus groups (each with 9-17 participants):

5 in communities near the flight paths

2 near smaller airports

1 away from any airport


Conclusions
Conclusions

  • Homogeneous groups

  • Recruiting process is important

  • Use of “informants”

  • Don’t directly jump to the main topic


Conclusions cont
Conclusions Cont.

  • Spiral the discussion to the object of focus

  • Don’t be afraid to collect quant. Data

  • Helps legitimize process

  • Helps uncover possible implementation problems


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