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The triangulation masters

Do you find it difficult to make an excuse for not telling some issues which you would not like to share even with close people?

It might be easy to recollect the time when your friends or parents were constantly asking different questions about an obscure issue. You see their eyes full of increasing curiosity and their attempts to paraphrase the question prompts afresh. You also guess that the meaning is unchangeable. Once you weaken the caution on the secret matter, you are caught. In this case the winners (your friends/parents) might celebrate their successful method of triangulation. People can use the triangulation method without learning a qualitative research design for discovering the truth.

Denzin (1978) identified four basic types of triangulation: data triangulation, investigator triangulation, theory triangulation, and method triangulation. However, there are people who use this methods without even knowing how scientists and scholars call them.  

The first reason for using this method is a simple human relationship which is connected with psychology. Close people are not usually unreasonably curious. They are eager to figure out important information for protecting and supporting you. It proves their care about you. In psychology “triangulation occurs when an outside person intervenes or is drawn into a conflicted or stressful relationship in an attempt to ease tension and facilitate communication.” (Triangulation, 2016, para. 1). This is mostly assumed to be the family therapy conducted by a professional therapist in a psychological council. However, close friends could also replace the therapist council if they are involved into problematic relationship. It is not mandatory to be a professional psychologist for urgent investigating and supporting a close friend or relative in need.  

Secondly, another field in which triangulation is widely practiced is the case investigation made by police officers. In order to identify important facts about a criminal case, inspectors use simple triangulation method for asking several questions repeatedly. Aftermath they check the suspects’ stability or changeability in responding. For instance, the triangulation of interests is a deep model applicable for a criminal court work. Altrichter et al. (2008) state that triangulation “gives a more detailed and balanced picture of the situation.” (p. 147). Although the aim of the usage is almost the same, we can say it is more serious since it decides whether the accused person is guilty or not. In parallel, this might remind you of the situation in school years when your parents were asking you a lot of questions about the broken vase or window at home, etc. aiming to figure out who was guilty. At that time they might seem to be police inspectors for you.

Thirdly, popular researchers Cohen and Manion (2000) determine the triangulation as an “attempt to map out, or explain more fully, the richness and complexity of human behavior by studying it from more than one standpoint.” (p. 254). The triangulation is taught in the research classes in higher educational institutions in order to teach students to conduct qualitative interviews. Using this method appears to be easy to understand and implement in practice for students as they used to do it habitually in informal everyday communication.  

Summing up we can state that time passes and triangulation becomes more and more popular among professionals of different fields. However, people automatically use triangulation methods successfully in everyday practice to solve their family or other issues for centuries because all methods are justified if they solve vital issues.

By the way, thank you to my mother who unintentionally encouraged me to choose the title of this blog post while our breakfast conversation recently.     


Cohen, L., & Manion, L. (2000). Research methods in education (5th ed.). UK: Routledge.

Denzin, N. (2006). Sociological methods: A sourcebook. Chicago, USA: Aldine Transaction.

Altrichter, H., Feldman, A., Posch, P. & Somekh, B. (2008). Teachers Investigate Their Work: An introduction to action research across the professions (2nd ed.). Oxon, USA: Routledge.

Mathias, D. (2004, September 3). The triangulation of interests fallacy. Retrieved March 2 2017 from  

Triangulation. (2016, August 1). Retrieved March 2 2017 from  

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6 thoughts on “The triangulation masters

  1. Wow, Assel. (5/5) This quite a unique post. You are the first person I’ve seen who has taken a research methods concept, and unpacked it so completely across various fields. Your readers will surely come away with a new understanding and appreciation for triangulation after reading your demystifying post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for appreciation, Davidphilip. I am also suprised how everything is connected in life. Similar to anecdotes, methods come from real life experiences.


  3. Dear Assel, you have answered my questions about triangulation. We have been taught to use triangulation in our research but i am confused about the usage of it. While your explanations have made the picture more clear for me. I never realized that we have been applying this method in our daily life and even during the interactions with our close friends and relatives! That is a great interpretation!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Asselt, it is amazing to see how the right choice of words and appropriate live examples transform a complicated material into something very easy and memorable. Thank you for your interpretation of triangulation! I wonder what kind of conversations you and your mother have early in the morning if you can come up with such an ingenious idea for a blog 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for appreciation, Mariaminu. You can believe me the topics are amazingly diverse since we communicate as mother and daughter, and have fun like best friends.


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