East Carolina University
Department of Psychology

Research Triangulation

   You wish to measure the distance from your current location to a landmark across the field.  You measure exactly the distance between two points at your current location (this defines the base line of a triangle) and then the angles between that base line and the two other sides of the triangle formed by drawing a line from each side of the base line to the distant landmark.  Given the length of the base line and measurement of the two base angles, you can compute the distance to the landmark.

    In a similar fashion a social scientist may better be able to describe/measure/manipulate/understand a concept if she can look at it from two (or more) different perspectives.  If I reach essentially the same conclusion from a second perspective that I did from the first perspective, I likely will feel more comfortable with my conclusion, as if I have validated the first conclusion by checking from a different angle and seeing the same thing again.  Such "research triangulation" may take many different forms in the social sciences.  For example:

     By the way, in my experience, psychologists are unfamiliar with the term "triangulation" as used in this document, but they do address the some of same concerns that social scientists are addressing when they use this term.  A Google search for "+triangulation +research" turned up many hits from various social sciences, but I did not find a single one from a psychologist (of course, I did not look at all 1,100,000 hits, just the first hundred or so).  Here are links to a few of these hits:

Return to Wuensch's Research Design Lessons

birds flying


  • spider in web
    Contact Information for the Webmaster,
    Dr. Karl L. Wuensch

    This page most recently revised on 8. February 2007