Eliciting Experts’ Context Knowledge with Theory-Based Experiential Questionnaires

18 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2011 Last revised: 14 Mar 2011

See all articles by Michael Gibbins

Michael Gibbins


Sandy Qu

York University - Schulich School of Business

Date Written: August 20, 2010


This paper describes a useful addition to behavioral researchers’ set of research methods, supplementing and extending what can be learned from interviews, surveys and experiments. The experiential questionnaire (EQ) is designed to study the context within which experts behave, guided by theory about that context and by extensive pre-testing with representatives of the target population of respondents.

An EQ is built around expert respondents’ experience of their context, the world in which they function, as represented by cases they have experienced and can describe in detail. The value of the data is supplemented by having the respondents choose the cases and do much of the categorization and coding of their own responses. The EQ’s questions are worded in matter-of-fact terms familiar to the respondents, to encourage respondents to report their experienced contexts dispassionately.

This paper describes the EQ method, with examples from the mostly auditing published studies and suggestions about extensions into other areas of accounting research. The value of studying experts’ context is addressed, as are matching of respondents and theory, designing and testing an EQ, and some threats to validity of the data resulting from an EQ. References to related research literatures are included.

Suggested Citation

Gibbins, Michael and Qu, Sandy Q., Eliciting Experts’ Context Knowledge with Theory-Based Experiential Questionnaires (August 20, 2010). Behavioral Research in Accounting, Vol. 17, pp. 71-88, 2005, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1662212

Michael Gibbins


Sandy Q. Qu (Contact Author)

York University - Schulich School of Business ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

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