Advertisement

The Freelisting Method

  • Marsha B. Quinlan
Reference work entry

Abstract

A freelist is a mental inventory of items an individual thinks of within a given category. Freelists reveal cultural “salience” of particular notions within groups, and variation in individuals’ topical knowledge across groups. The ease and accuracy of freelist interviewing, or freelisting, makes it ideal for collecting data on health knowledge and beliefs from relatively large samples. Successful freelisting requires researchers to break the research topic into honed categories. Research participants presented with broad prompts tend to “unpack” mental subcategories and may omit (forget) common items or categories. Researchers should find subdomains to present individually for participants to unpack in separate smaller freelists. Researchers may focus the freelist prompts through successive freelisting, pile sorts, or focus group-interviews. Written freelisting among literate populations allows for rapid data collection, possibly from multiple individuals simultaneously. Among nonliterate peoples, using oral freelists remains a relatively rapid method; however, interviewers must prevent bystanders from “contaminating” individual interviewees’ lists. Researchers should cross-check freelist responses with informal methods as much as practicable to contextualize and understand the references therein. With proper attention to detail, freelisting can amass high quality data on people’s medical understanding, attitudes, and behaviors.

Keywords

Freelist Free recall Salience analysis Systematic data collection Domain analysis Rapid Ethnographic Assessment (REA) approaches 

References

  1. Ahmad FS, Barg FK, Bowles KH, Alexander M, Goldberg LR, French B, Kangovi S, Gallagher TR, Paciotti B, Kimmel SE. Comparing perspectives of patients, caregivers, and clinicians on heart failure management. J Card Fail. 2015;22(3):210–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alexiades MN. Collecting ethnobotanical data. In: Alexiades MN, editor. Selected guidelines for ethnobotanical research: a field manual. Bronx, NY: New York Botanical Garden; 1996 p. 53–96.Google Scholar
  3. Bayliss EA, Steiner JF, Fernald DH, Crane LA, Main DS. Descriptions of barriers to self-care by persons with comorbid chronic diseases. Ann Fam Med. 2003;1(1):15–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berlin B. Ethnobiological classification. Princeton: Princeton University Press; 1992.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berlin EA, Berlin B. Medical ethnobiology of the highland Maya of Chiapas, Mexico. Princeton: Princeton University Press; 1996.Google Scholar
  6. Bernard HR. Research methods in anthropology: qualitative and quantitative approaches. 5th ed. Lanham: Altamira/Rowman & Littlefield; 2011.Google Scholar
  7. Bernard HR. Research methods in anthropology: qualitative and quantitative approaches, 6th edn. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield; 2017.Google Scholar
  8. Bolton P, Tang AM. Using ethnographic methods in the selection of post-disaster, mental health interventions. Prehospital Disaster Med. 2004;19(01):97–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bolton R, Curtis A, Thomas L. Nepali color terms: salience in a listing task. J Steward Anthropol Soc. 1980;12:309–21.Google Scholar
  10. Borgatti SP. Using Anthropac to investigate a cultural domain. Cult Anthropol Methods Newsl. 1990;2(1):8.Google Scholar
  11. Borgatti SP. ANTHROPAC 4.00 methods guide. Columbia: Analytic Technologies; 1992.Google Scholar
  12. Borgatti SP. Elicitation techniques for cultural domain analysis. In: Schensul J, LeCompte M, editors. The ethnographer's toolkit. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press; 1999. p. 115–51.Google Scholar
  13. Boster JS. Introduction. Am Behav Sci. 1987;31:150–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bradway CW, Barg F. Developing a cultural model for long-term female urinary incontinence. Soc Sci Med. 2006;63(12):3150–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bradway C, Dahlberg B, Barg FK. How women conceptualize urinary incontinence: a cultural model. J Women’s Health (Larchmt). 2010;19(8):1533–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Brewer D. Cognitive indicators of knowledge in semantic domains. J Quant Anthropol. 1995;5:1047–128.Google Scholar
  17. Brewer D. Supplementary interviewing techniques to maximize output in free listing tasks. Field Methods. 2002;14(1):108–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ceuterick M, Vandebroek I, Torry B, Pieroni A. Cross-cultural adaptation in urban ethnobotany: the Colombian folk pharmacopoeia in London. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008;120(3):342–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Crandon-Malamud L. From the fat of our souls: social change, political process, and medical pluralism in Bolivia. Berkeley: University of California Press; 1991.Google Scholar
  20. D’Andrade RG. Modal responses and cultural expertise. Am Behav Sci. 1987;31:194–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fiks AG, Gafen A, Hughes CC, Hunter KF, Barg FK. Using freelisting to understand shared decision making in ADHD: parents’ and pediatricians’ perspectives. Patient Educ Couns. 2011;84(2):236–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Finerman R, Sackett R. Using home gardens to decipher health and healing in the Andes. Med Anthropol Q. 2003;17(4):459–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Flores KE, Quinlan MB. Ethnomedicine of menstruation in rural Dominica, West Indies. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014;153(3):624–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Furlow CA. Comparing indicators of knowledge within and between cultural domains. Field Methods. 2003;15(1):51–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gatewood JB. Loose talk: linguistic competence and recognition ability. Am Anthropol. 1983;85(2):378–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gatewood JB. Familiarity, vocabulary size, and recognition ability in four semantic domains. Am Ethnol. 1984;11:507–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Giovannini P, Heinrich M. Xki yoma’ (our medicine) and xki tienda (patent medicine) – interface between traditional and modern medicine among the Mazatecs of Oaxaca, Mexico. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009;121(3):383–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gravlee CC, Bernard HR, Maxwell CR, Jacobsohn A. Mode effects in free-list elicitation: comparing oral, written, and web-based data collection. Soc Sci Comput Rev. 2012;31(1):119–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Handwerker WP, Borgatti SP. Reasoning with numbers. In: Bernard HR, Gravelee CC, editors. Handbook of methods in cultural anthropology. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield; 2014. p. 519–32.Google Scholar
  30. Henley N. A psychological study of the semantics of animal terms. J Verbal Learn Verbal Behav. 1969;8:176–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hruschka DJ, Sibley LM, Kalim N, Edmonds JK. When there is more than one answer key: cultural theories of postpartum hemorrhage in Matlab, Bangladesh. Field Methods. 2008;20(4):315–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hutchinson JW. Expertise and structure of free recall. In: Bagozzi RP, Tybout AM, editors. Advances in consumer research. Ann Arbor: Association for Consumer Research; 1983. p. 585–9.Google Scholar
  33. Lucan SC, Barg FK, Karasz A, Palmer CS, Long JA. Concepts of healthy diet among urban, low-income, African Americans. J Community Health. 2012;37(4):754–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mathez-Stiefel SL, Brandt R, Lachmuth S, Rist S. Are the young less knowledgeable? Local knowledge of natural remedies and its transformations in the Andean highlands. Hum Ecol. 2012;40(6):909–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Robbins MC, Nolan JM, Chen D. An Improved Measure of Cognitive Salience in Free Listing Tasks. Field Methods. 2017;1525822X1772672.Google Scholar
  36. Nolan JM. Pursuing the fruits of knowledge: cognitive ethnobotany in Missouri’s little Dixie. J Ethnobiol. 2001;21(2):29–51.Google Scholar
  37. Nolan JM. Wild plant classification in little Dixie: variation in a regional culture. J Ecol Anthropol. 2002;6:69–81.Google Scholar
  38. Nolan JM. Ethnobotany in Missouri’s little Dixie: cognitive ecology in a regional culture. Lanham: University Press of America; 2004.Google Scholar
  39. Nolan JM, Robbins MC. Cultural conservation of medicinal plant use in the Ozarks. Hum Organ. 1999;58:67–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pieroni A, Sheikh QZ, Ali W, Torry B. Traditional medicines used by Pakistani migrants from Mirpur living in Bradford, Northern England. Complement Ther Med. 2008;16(2):81–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Quinlan MB. Bush medicine in Bwa Mawego: Ethnomedicine and medical botany of common illnesses in a Caribbean village. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Missouri-Columbia. An Arbor, MI: UMI Dissertation Publishing. 2000.Google Scholar
  42. Quinlan MB. From the bush: the frontline of health care in a Caribbean village. Belmont: Wadsworth/Cengage Publishing; 2004.Google Scholar
  43. Quinlan MB. Ethnomedicine and ethnobotany of fright, a Caribbean culture-bound psychiatric syndrome. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010;6(9):1–18.Google Scholar
  44. Quinlan MB, Flores KE. Bush medicine in Dominica: ethnophysiology and medical ethnobotany in a Caribbean horticultural village. Contributions in ethnobiology series. Denton: The Society of Ethnobiology; in press.Google Scholar
  45. Quinlan MB, Quinlan RJ. Modernization and medicinal plant knowledge in a Caribbean horticultural village. Med Anthropol Q. 2007;21(2):169–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Quinlan MB, Quinlan RJ, Nolan JM. Ethnophysiology and herbal treatments of intestinal worms in Dominica, West Indies. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002;80(1):75–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Quinlan MB, Quinlan RJ, Council SK, Roulette JW. Children’s acquisition of ethnobotanical knowledge in a Caribbean horticultural village. J Ethnobiol. 2016;36(2):433–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Quinlan M. Considerations for collecting freelists in the field: Examples from Ethobotany. Field Methods 2016;17(3):219–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Robbins MC, Nolan JM. An improved measure of cognitive salience in free listing tasks. Cult Anthropol Methods J. 1997;9:8–12.Google Scholar
  50. Romney A, D’Andrade R. Cognitive aspects of English kin terms. Am Anthropol. 1964;66(3.): 146–70. Part 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Ryan G, Nolan J, Yoder S. Successive free listing: using multiple free lists to generate explanatory models. Field Methods. 2000;12(2):83–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Smith JJ. Using ANTHROPAC 3.5 and a spreadsheet to compute a free list salience index. Cult Anthropol Methods Newsl. 1993;5(3):1–3.Google Scholar
  53. Smith JJ, Furbee L, Maynard K, Quick S, Ross L. Salience counts: a domain analysis of English color terms. J Linguist Anthropol. 1995;5(2):203–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Trotter RT II. Remedios cseros: Mexican American home remedies and community health problems. Soc Sci Med. 1981;15B:107–14.Google Scholar
  55. Trotter RT II, Schensul JJ, Kostick KM. Theories and methods in applied anthropology. In: Bernard HR, Gravelee CC, editors. Handbook of methods in cultural anthropology. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield; 2014. p. 661–95.Google Scholar
  56. Waldstein A. Mexican migrant ethnopharmacology: pharmacopoeia, classification of medicines and explanations of efficacy. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;108(2):299–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Weller SC. Shared knowledge, intracultural variation, and knowledge aggregation. Am Behav Sci. 1987;312:178–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Weller S, Romney AK. Systematic data collection. Newbury Park: Sage; 1988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA

Personalised recommendations