Westminster College Professor Presents Research in Amsterdam

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - Dr. James Rhoads, Westminster College professor of political science, presented research at the annual meeting of the International Society for the Scientific Study of Subjectivity Sept. 5-7 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The meeting focused on research using Q Methodology and brought together Q methodologists from all over the globe, representing many different academic disciplines. Q Methodology is a means by which the subjective can be systematically studied.

Rhoads presented "Science & the Single Case: The Study of 'Phil,' the Political Agitator." This project, based on the research Rhoads undertook for his 2012 Westminster College Henderson Lecture, involved a life-history interview with a subject, in which self-referent statements were drawn from the interview, and presented back to the subject in the form of a Q-sort.  "Phil" sorted these statements under 18 different conditions of instruction, and factor analysis revealed three separate "selves" presented by "Phil."

Rhoads also presented, "Social Media in a Subjective-Science Mode: The 'Facebook Likes' Study Reconfigured with Self-Reference" with colleagues Bruce McKeown, retired from Westmont College, and Dan Thomas, from Wartburg College.  The study took as its point of departure a recent study by Cambridge University scholars that studied the extent to which use of the Facebook "Likes" button predicted behaviors and attributes of a diverse nature: IQ, sexual identity, political and popular-culture preferences, and religious affiliations.  Rhoads and his co-authors sampled from the concourse of statements relating to the study, and had self-identified regular users of Facebook Q-sort a set of these statements.  The study found three distinct views of the way in which users of Facebook relate to the social medium itself.

Finally, Rhoads was a member of the panel, "Panel of Experts: Listserv Goes Live," in which he and five other veteran Q methodologists commented in front of a plenary session on the recurring questions and themes found in the daily discourse on the Q-method electronic listserv, which now totals over 800 members.

Rhoads, who joined the Westminster faculty in 1992, earned an undergraduate degree, master's degree, and Ph.D. from Kent State University.

The International Society for the Scientific Study of Subjectivity will meet next September for its 30th annual conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Rhoads hosted the gathering in Pittsburgh in 2012.

Contact Rhoads at 724-946-7255 or email for more information.

About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College ranks first in the nation as "Best College for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," according to Forbes.com. Westminster is a top-tier liberal arts college and a national leader in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News Best Colleges guide. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 378 Colleges" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.

Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 41 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus. Visit www.westminster.edu/advantage to view "Advantage: Westminster" A Strategic Plan 2010-2020.

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Dr. James Rhoads, professor of political science