Quality & Quantity

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 775–790 | Cite as

Two applications of the Points-of-View model to subject variations in sorting data



In many of the social sciences it is useful to explore the “working models” or mental schemata that people use to organise items from some cognitive or perceptual domain. With an increasing number of items, versions of the Method of Sorting become important techniques for collecting data about inter-item similarities. Because people do not necessarily all bring the same mental model to the items, there is also the prospect that sorting data can identify a range within the population of interest, or even distinct subgroups. Anthropology provides one tool for this purpose in the form of Cultural Consensus Analysis (CCA). CCA itself proves to be a special case of the “Points of View” approach. Here factor analysis is applied to the subjects’ method-of-sorting responses, obtaining idealized or prototypal modes of organising the items—the “viewpoints”. These idealised modes account for each subject’s data by combining them in proportions given by the subject’s factor loadings. The separate organisation represented by each viewpoint can be made explicit with clustering or multidimensional scaling. The technique is illustrated with job-sorting data from occupational research, and social-network data from primate behaviour.


Method of sorting Individual differences Cultural consensus analysis Factor analysis Multidimensional scaling Occupational cognition 



Cultural consensus analysis


Multidimensional scaling


Factor analysis


Hierarchical clustering analysis


Principal components analysis




Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arabie P., Boorman S.A.: Multidimensional scaling of measures of distance between partitions. J. Math. Psych. 10, 148–203 (1973)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bimler D.L., Kirkland J.: Multidimensional scaling of hierarchical sorting data applied to facial expressions. Scand. J. Psych. 38, 349–357 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bimler D., Kirkland J.: From circumplex to sphere: perceptions of vocational activities, explored and applied. Hum. Resourc. Psych. 3, 29–40 (2005)Google Scholar
  4. Boster J.S.: Can individuals recapitulate the evolutionary development of color lexicons?. Ethnology 25, 61–74 (1986)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boster J.S.: The successive pile sort. Cultural Anthropol. Meth. 62, 11–12 (1994)Google Scholar
  6. Boster J.S., Johnson J.C.: Form or function: a comparison of expert and novice judgments of similarity among fish. Am. Anthropol. 91, 866–889 (1989)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boster J., Johnson J., Weller S.C.: Social position and shared knowledge: actors’ perceptions of status, role, and social structure. Soc. Netw. 9, 375–387 (1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brazill T.J., Romney A.K., Batchelder W.H.: A comparison of methods for collecting judged similarities among items in a semantic domain. J. Quant. Anthropol. 5, 359–374 (1995)Google Scholar
  9. Brusco M.J., Cradit J.D.: ConPar: a method for identifying groups of concordant subject proximity matrices for subsequent multidimensional scaling analyses. J. Math. Psych. 49, 142–154 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burton M.L.: Semantic dimensions of occupation names. In: Romney, A.K., Shepard, R.N., Nerlove, S.B. (eds) Multidimensional scaling: theory and applications in the behavioral sciences, vol. 2, pp. 55–72. Seminar Press, New York (1972)Google Scholar
  11. Clark H.H.: On the use and meaning of prepositions. J. Verbal Learn. & Verbal Behav. 7, 421–431 (1968)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Coxon A.P.M.: Sorting data: collection and analysis. Sage Publications, London (1999)Google Scholar
  13. Coxon A.P.M., Jones C.L.: Occupational similarities: subjective aspects of social stratification. Qual. & Quant. 8, 139–157 (1974)Google Scholar
  14. Coxon, A.P.M., Jones, C.L.: Project on occupational cognition: sociological aspects of subjective occupational structures, 1973–1975 [computer file]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive [distributor], 1975. SN: 222 (1975)Google Scholar
  15. Day S.X, Rounds J., Swaney K.: The structure of vocational interests for diverse racial-ethnic groups. Psych. Sci. 9, 40–44 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Handwerker W.P.: The construct validity of cultures: cultural diversity, culture theory, and a method for ethnography. Am. Anthropol. 104, 106–122 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Helm C.E., Tucker L.R.: Individual differences in the structure of color perception. Am. J. Psych. 75, 437–444 (1962)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hojo H.: A new nonmetric multidimensional scaling method for sorting data. Jap. Psych. Res. 35, 129–139 (1993)Google Scholar
  19. Hubert L., Arabie P.: The analysis of proximity matrices through sums of matrices having (anti-) Robinson forms. Br. J. Math. & Stat. Psych. 47, 1–40 (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Johnson S.C.: Hierarchical clustering schemes. Psychometrika 2, 241–254 (1967)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Laumann E.O., Guttman L.: The relative associational contiguity of occupations in an urban setting. Am. Sociol. Rev. 31, 169–178 (1966)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. López A., Atran S., Coley J.D., Medin D.L., Smith E.E.: The tree of life: universal and cultural features of folkbiological taxonomies and inductions. Cogn. Psych. 32, 251–295 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Medin D.L., Lynch E.B., Coley J.D.: Categorization and reasoning among tree experts: Do all roads lead to Rome? Cogn. Psych. 21, 49–96 (1997)Google Scholar
  24. Medin D.L., Ross N.O., Atran S., Cox D., Coley J., Proffitt J.B., Blok S.: Folkbiology of freshwater fish. Cognition 92, 1–37 (2005)Google Scholar
  25. Powell J.A.: Multidimensional scaling: a possible technique for examining male and female occupational perceptions and preferences. Multivar. Behav. Res. 20, 201–222 (1985)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Reeb M.: Similarity, prestige and desirability of jobs as seen by counsellors and 14-year-old boys. Occup. Psych. 45, 233–242 (1971)Google Scholar
  27. Reeb M.: The perception of occupational structure: an intervening variable in vocational behavior. J. Vocat. Beh. 4, 125–137 (1974)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Reeb M.: Occupational perception and school stream in relation to job classifications, preferences and prestige for 17-year-old girls and boys. J. Occup. Psych. 52, 113–127 (1979)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Romney A.K., Boyd J.P., Moore C.C., Batchelder W.H., Brazill T.J.: Culture as shared cognitive representations. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 93, 4699–4705 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Romney A.K., Weller S.C., Batchelder W.H.: Culture as consensus: a theory of cultural and informant accuracy. Am. Anthropol. 88, 313–338 (1986)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ross J.: A remark on Tucker and Messick’s ‘points of view’ analysis. Psychometrika 31, 27–31 (1966)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rounds J.B. Jr., Zevon M.A.: Multidimensional scaling research in vocational psychology. Appl. Psych. Meas. 7, 491–510 (1983)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Russell J.A., Ridgeway D.: Dimensions underlying children’s emotion concepts. Dev. Psych. 19, 795–804 (1983)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sherman R.C.: Individual differences in perceived trait relationships as a function of dimensional salience. Multivar. Behav. Res. 7, 109–129 (1972)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Shubsachs A.P.W., Davison M.L.: Individual differences in perceptions of occupations and occupational reinforcers. J. Occup. Psych. 52, 299–310 (1979)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Struhsaker T.T.: Social structure among vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops). Behav. 29, 83–121 (1967)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Takane Y.: IDSORT: an individual differences multidimensional scaling program for sorting data. Behav. Res. Meth. & Instrum. 14, 546 (1982)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Tracey T.J.G., Rounds J.: The arbitrary nature of Holland’s RIASEC types: a concentric-circles structure. J. Counsel. Psych. 42, 431–439 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Tracey T.J.G., Rounds J.: The spherical representation of vocational interests. J. Vocat. Behav. 48, 3–41 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Tucker L.R., Messick S.: An individual differences model for multidimensional scaling. Psychometrika 28, 333–367 (1963)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Arts, Development and Health EducationMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations