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The Qualitative Interview in Psychology and the Study of Social Change: Sexual Identity Development, Minority Stress, and Health in the Generations Study


Interviewing is considered a key form of qualitative inquiry in psychology that yields rich data on lived experience and meaning making of life events. Interviews that contain multiple components informed by specific epistemologies have the potential to provide particularly nuanced perspectives on psychological experience. We offer a methodological model for a multi-component interview that draws upon both pragmatic and constructivist epistemologies to examine generational differences in the experience of identity development, stress, and health among contemporary sexual minorities in the United States. Grounded in theories of life course, narrative, and intersectionality, we designed and implemented a multi-component protocol that was administered among a diverse sample of three generations of sexual minority individuals. For each component, we describe the purpose and utility, underlying epistemology, foundational psychological approach, and procedure, and we provide illustrative data from interviewees. We discuss procedures undertaken to ensure methodological integrity in process of data collection, illustrating the implementation of recent guidelines for qualitative inquiry in psychology. We highlight the utility of this qualitative multi-component interview to examine the way in which sexual minorities of distinct generations have made meaning of significant social change over the past half-century.

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