Successive Free Listing

Using Multiple Free Lists to Generate Explanatory Models

Published in: Field Methods, v. 12, no. 2, May 2000, p. 83-107

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1999

by Gery W. Ryan, Justin M. Nolan, P. Stanley Yoder

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Successive free listing is a data collection technique that links multiple free lists together in a single interview. The technique can be incorporated into naturally occurring conversations and is readily understood by informants. It also generates more information about the similarity between items than do standard free-listing tasks and allows investigators to better describe intracultural variation among informants. Data from Yoder's ethnomedical study of childhood diarrhea in Zaire are used to demonstrate how the technique works and how the data can be analyzed. The authors warn that successive free listing is not a substitute for more formal frame substitute techniques, and investigators may wish to use the technique early in the research process to systematically explore and describe the multiple relationships between items in a domain.

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