In the social sciences, triangulation is often used to indicate that two (or more) methods are used in a study in order to check the results of one and the same subject. “The concept of triangulation is borrowed from navigational and land surveying techniques that determine a single point in space with the convergence of measurements taken from two other distinct points.” The idea is that one can be more confident with a result if different methods lead to the same result.
- The convergence of multiple methods on the same research question to corroborate evidence from several different angles
- It ensures accuracy of information by combining sources and mitigating the weaknesses of any single method or source.
- The most common occurrence of triangulation is to combine behavioral observation methods with self-report methods such as questionnaires or interviews.
- Self-reported behaviors or attitudes aligned with social norms or research expectations may be contradicted by actual behaviors observed.
- Triangulation may compare physiological data such as heart rate or pupil dilation with self-reported information or observations of visible behaviors.
- Anecdotal information collected through qualitative means can enrich and humanize the abstraction of quantitative results collected through survey data.
- In usability studies, recordings are triangulated across keystroke/mouse inputs, facial expressions, and actions verbalized in think-aloud protocol.