Focus Group

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2. What are some of the disadvantages of using focus groups? Discuss two recent trends in focus group research and explain why you think these have evolved. Use references to support your opinions.

Focus groups are one of the more commonly used methods in research when looking for a deeper understanding of a particular topic. Focus group discussions allow the researcher to probe both the cognitive and emotional responses of participants while observing the underlying group dynamic (Heary, Caroline, and Hennessy 2002, 48).

In depth discussion can be generated from the interaction of a group of participants, and the group dynamics can generate new and fresh thinking about a topic.

Disadvantages
However, the “emerging group culture may interfere with individual expression, the group makes it difficult to research sensitive topics, ‘groupthink’ is a possible outcome, and the requirements for the interviewer skill are greater because of group dynamics” (Denzin, K and Lincoln. 1998, 53).

Conducting focus groups can be very costly and time-consuming, with a typical three-day trip, comprising of perhaps six groups and 18 hours of video costing almost $30,000 (Grass, 2009). Furthermore, a skilled moderator is needed to facilitate the sessions effectively.

Moderator bias in the form of personal bias and the unconscious bias in pleasing the client is also present with focus group interviews (Flores, Alonso 1995).

The cost and effort involved in conducting focus groups also lead to often small and nonrandom samples being used. This limits the generalizability of focus group findings (Stewart, Shamdasani and Rook 1990).

With surveys and one-to-one interviews, it is often possible to ensure confidentiality. However, due to the nature of focus group sessions, only limited confidentiality can be achieved. This can lead to less honest responses to more sensitive topics. Individual interviews will be more effective for that purpose.
Focus groups are

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