Focus Groups as a Questionnaire Pretest for Surveys in Cross-Cultural and Cross-National Comparative Research

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Abstract


As a research method, focus groups have methodological advantages for understanding the views and behavior of group members or for understanding the social system as a whole, since it covers the interaction between people, groups, and the interpersonal environment quite well that widely recognized in the social sciences. These advantages are introduced in the context of mixed-methods, including conducting a survey together with focus groups as a pretest questionnaire in a comparative perspective in cross-national and cross-culture research. Focus groups provide to reach construct equivalence and elaborate an appropriate context-oriented language for questionnaire questions. Using the focus groups in this way can be an effective approach to overcoming the initial limited ability of surveys to valid measure more complex socially constructed concepts, the meaning of which can vary significantly from one group to another, especially from a comparative perspective in cross-national and cross-culture research. Using focus groups, data is collected in a more “natural” way, that is, more close to the real world, while the generalization is ensured by a detailed description of specific conditions, participants, and research environment. In addition, the discussion group is a miniature thinking society, and unlike dyadic interviews or surveys, focus group discussions give participants the opportunity to express their opinions, discuss their views and opinions with other participants, listen to other people’s opinions, disagree or to develop thoughts by reasoning out loud - this is similar to what happens in real life. This increased awareness about the described advantages of the approach for cross-cultural and cross-national comparative research likely contributes to its more active employ.


About the authors

Dmitry Sergeevich Grigoryev

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Author for correspondence.
Email: dgrigoryev@hse.ru
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4511-7942
20 Myasnitskaya St, Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation

PhD, is Research Fellow, Center for Sociocultural Research

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