By Andi Woods, Nathyn Scruggs, Adilene Bravo, Ronald Chy
We interviewed Professor Meeds about his involvement in this study and his motivations for participating in fantasy sports. This study was conducted by Lee Farquhar, assisted by Robert Meeds. Farquhar created this study for his master’s thesis at Kansas State, where Meeds was an advisor helping him. The study was conducted in 2007 and involved a unique methodology (Q Methodology) that not many social sciences would use.
Farquhar was interested in fantasy sports then, as they became increasingly popular throughout the years. Fantasy sports is a game where people would create mock drafts of NFL or MLB teams and bet on whether or not their team wins or loses. It gained a lot of followers as it was fairly new in terms of its popularity, and it was also a way people could connect with other sports fans. Fantasy sports is a user-driven form of entertainment that includes a small gathering between friends or family. This study will explore people’s motivations for participating in fantasy sports.
What was your motivation behind doing this research and what question were you trying to answer?
I will speak for Lee because this was his baby, but this was a very doable study for a Master’s student who didn’t have research funding and so it was the kind of thing you could do with a reasonably small sample of people who were participating in the research. It was something that he was really kind of interested in, so it hit both of those criteria.
What was your methodology and why did you choose to apply it to this research?
One of the practical reasons was that it was a methodology that did not require the kind of sampling that you would get from a normal survey. From a normal survey, to be able to have reasonable sampling error within your responses, you’re usually talking about at least 300 people that you need to participate. With Q-methodology, you’re talking about a much smaller sample. It was the practical reason, but it was also a good fit for what he wanted to find out. We wanted to find out more about people’s motivations for participating in fantasy sports and this research is something that Q-methodology is really good at.
Basically, you can vary people, times, or occasions. So with Q-methodology, you’re trying to make generalizations about types of people. You have to flip your brain 90° in terms of what you’re trying to make generalizations about. The purpose of Q-Methodology is to try to understand people’s motivations and group them into types of people. Q-methodology is a generalization about people and about variables.
And with factor analysis in our methodology, it seemed like we were asking the same question in 20 different ways. We ask a lot of questions that kind of sound similar, but they’re getting a slightly different aspect of an attitude Then, what we did is take that data and we threw the whole thing into a hopper in SPSS, and it simultaneously calculated the correlations among all those variables. When it was done it spit out groups that went together. Then you take Q-methodology and flip the data matrix, what we’re doing factor analyzing people. It will produce a factor analysis of people and it will tell us what people go through in certain factors based on their responses to the questions. And so people get sorted and the factors and then the researcher’s job is to identify the factors and try to interpret them.
The study noted that members of the F5 group were still inexperienced. Which group do you think a majority of them would most likely join when they become more experienced?
I think that it would be very interesting to see which group these inexperienced people would join later in life if they do even change groups. I think it is very possible for these people to change to one of the other groups.
How different is it applying Q methodology compared to your other studies?
One study was early in my career, and that was a Q methodology study about advertising students and their opinions about advertising and why they were studying advertising. The other study involved a graduate student, and I can’t even remember the topic of this one. It was not a well-conducted study, and we didn’t get a publication out of it. Those two are the only ones that would have been the correct methods to use Q-methodology, and it depends if it is appropriate for answering the question, research question that you have. We were interested in understanding ain students chose to advertise or what the typologies of the students were, and Q methodology was good for that. Most of my other advertising research. Q would not be an appropriate methodology because I’m doing a lot of linguistic research in advertising. I’m trying to figure out how different ways that I might phrase different ways that I might construct a sentence, how that would actually impact the reader’s attitudes about it, and Q-methodology wouldn’t be, would not be very useful at all for that.
If you could conduct this study again, is there anything you would do differently?
I think this would be an interesting study to replicate since it was done multiple years ago. The study was tidy and no major errors were made, but I think it would be a really interesting one to replicate if Lee ever wanted to do it again, and see those types of people and motivations compare in the past and present.
What factor surprised you about this whole experiment?
As I’m looking back through it, I haven’t thought about this study much for several years, but I’ve probably found the isolationists and thrill seekers kind of surprised me a little bit. People that liked doing it but didn’t really like the interaction as other people and were just about the results was surprising to me.
What was the most interesting or favorite part of your research?
There were a couple things that were really pretty interesting. One is this was a study that the people who participated in it. They just really enjoyed it. You know, they were like, this is kind of cool, to be asked about your opinion about fantasy sports. The other thing that’s always interesting to me about a Q study is applying it to the experiment, and seeing how different it is from the other methodologies.
Here is our full interview with Dr. Robert Meeds: