Interaction among participants is the fundamental mechanism that generates data in focus groups. Despite calls for ways to analyze interaction in focus groups, there is still an unmet need to develop such tools. We present a coding system to investigate interaction by emphasizing how participants use the substantive aspects of the topics they discuss. We then apply it to the question of how conversations in dyadic interviews (with two participants) compare to discussions in focus groups (with four or more participants). We find that dyadic interviews are more likely to contain explicit connections to the content of the previous speaker’s statement, and to generate more statements of agreement, indicating a higher degree of mutual attunement. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of our coding system in one particular context. We conclude by considering both the limitations of this system and the possibilities for extending it in future research.


Focus Groups, Dyadic Interviews, Qualitative Data Analysis, Content Analysis, Interaction

Author Bio(s)

David L. Morgan, PhD, is a professor of sociology at Portland State University, where he specializes in qualitative research and mixed methods research. He is best known for his work on focus groups. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: morgand@pdx.edu.

Kim Hoffman, PhD, has more than 15 years of experience conducting rigorous academic research and program evaluation in diverse settings throughout the world. She is a Senior Research Associate with Oregon Health and Science University and also the Research and Program Evaluation Director of INCAAS (International Center for Advanced Research and Applied Science - www.incaas.com) based in Lima, Peru. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: kim@incaas.org.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.