Interviews and Theory
Construction In-depth interviews. along with participant observation and case studies. are frequently used to develop theories through observation. The term grounded theory was developed by sociologists Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss (1967) to describe this inductive method of theory construction. Researchers who use grounded theory collect and analyze data simultaneously. For example. after in-depth interviews with 106 suicide attempts. researchers in one study concluded that half of the individuals who attempted suicide wanted both to live and to die at the time of their attempt.
From these unstructured interviews. it became obvious that ambivalence led about half of "serious" suicidal attempters to "literally gamble with death" (Kovacs and Beck. 1977. qtd. in Taylor. 1982: 144 After asking their initial unstructured questions of the interviewees, Kovacs and Taylor decided to widen the research question from "Why do people kill themselves?" to a broader question: "Why do people engage in acts of self damage which ma)~~result in death?" In other words. uncertainty of outcome is a common feature of most suicidal acts. In previous studies. researchers had simply assumed that in "dangerous attempts" the individual really wanted to die whereas in "moderate" attempts the person was ambival~nt (Taylor. 1982: 160).