Types of Focus Groups

RR graphic - no words.jpg  Types of Focus Groups

This module describes different types of focus groups and when each would be appropriate to use in focus group research.

Learning Objectives:

  • List and describe different types of focus groups.
  • Explain when each type of focus group would be used.


One of the first steps in planning a focus group is deciding the type of focus group format that will be used. The type of format depends on the purpose of the focus group and the nature of the information being collected. The following list describes common types of formats for focus groups. Researchers must examine the goal of the focus group and decide which format will allow them to elicit the desired information from participants.

  • Single focus group – This is the classical type of focus group where all respondents are placed in one group to interactively discuss the topic.
  • Two-way focus groups – This format involves using two groups. One group actively discusses the topic and the other group observes the first group and then discusses their interactions.
  • Dual moderator focus groups – The moderators work together with one moderator asking the questions and leading the session and the other moderator ensuring that all questions are asked and any new evolutions are discussed further.
  • Dueling moderator focus groups – The two moderators purposefully take opposing sides on an issues or topic to fuel discussion.
  • Respondent moderator focus group – One of the respondents will temporarily act as the moderator which changes the dynamics of the group.
  • Mini Focus Groups – This format uses smaller groups of only 4-5 participants.
  • Teleconference or online focus groups – These formats use conference calling, chat rooms or other online means to conduct the focus group to allow for better outreach to participants.

This Slideshare presentation, Focus Groups – An Introduction, contains a detailed list of different types of focus groups as well as other introductory information.


Suggested Readings:

  • Bloor, M. (2001). Focus groups in social research. Sage.
  • Gibbs, A. (1997). Focus groups. Social research update, 19(8), 1-8.
  • Kamberelis, G., & Dimitriadis, G. (2005). Focus groups. The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research-Third Edition. Sage Publications, 20020, 887-908.
  • Kitzinger, J. (1995). Qualitative research. Introducing focus groups. BMJ: British medical journal, 311(7000), 299.
  • Kitzinger, J. (1994). The methodology of focus groups: the importance of interaction between research participants. Sociology of health and illness, 16(1), 103-121.
  • Krueger, R. A., & Casey, M. A. (2009). Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research. Sage.
  • Litosseliti, L. (2003). Using focus groups in research. A&C Black.
  • Morgan, D. L. (1997). Focus groups as qualitative research (Vol. 16). Sage.
  • Morgan, D. L. (1996). Focus groups. Annual review of sociology, 129-152.

Resource Links

Focus Groups – Pros/Cons and Types – The link below describes the various types of focus and when they would be appropriate.

Focus Groups – This resources discuss all aspects of conducting a focus groups, but also contains an explanation of the different types of focus groups.

Types of Focus Groups – The following resources briefly describe different types of focus groups.

Introduction to Conducting Focus Groups – The PDF file linked here provides a comprehensive discussion of how to conduct a focus group.

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