Thursday, June 13, 2013

Qualitative and Quantitative

Quantitative strategies focus on numeric analysis and statistics, relationships between variables, and cause and effect relationships, whereas qualitative strategies focus of the qualities of a population. Qualitative strategies involve collecting data that finds meaning in human social experience and is formative (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009a), whereas quantitative strategies quantifies relationships between variables and emphasizes mathematical measurement, using statistical analysis (Creswell, 2009).

In qualitative studies, researchers make interpretations from subjective experiences, whereas in quantitative studies, researchers seek to determine numerical relationships between variables (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009b). Quantitative strategies observe two or more variables and examine correlations or establish cause and effect, although qualitative strategies are explorations into human nature that are neither mathematically measured nor experimentally manipulated. Both, however, may utilize a survey or questionnaire to obtain information (Creswell, 2009).

Both ask research questions based on the individual interests of the researcher. Both rely on reliability and validity as cornerstones of research in their field. Both seek to accurately mine information from a particular area of inquiry, and the goal of both is to refrain from bias and present information objectively.

Research questions for qualitative studies might begin with how or what, and they are meant to explore, generate, identify, and describe. Questions such as how do participants feel, what do they believe or perceive, or what was the meaning to the participants. The questions are often general and provoke participants' subjective experiences and narratives (Creswell, 2009). Because qualitative research seeks to explore or discover meaning, these questions will lead to answers that contribute to a greater understanding of the subject of inquiry.

Quantitative studies, on the other hand, ask research questions or hypotheses that ask how often, how much, or describes change longitudinally. They ask causal questions such as how much does A affect B, and what is the relationship between A and B, or does A cause B, or does A predict B? These questions contribute to the creation of testable hypotheses that can be measured to define and describe relationships between variables.

Qualitative methods are quite popular in health psychology. This field often seeks to determine how individuals perceive, experience and feel, and explores attitudes toward a particular phenomena, situation, or health-related event or information (Glanz, Rimer, & Viswanath, 2008; Marks, Murray, Evans, & Estacio, 2011). Qualitative research, especially in the social sciences, provides a human richness that cannot be obtained by quantitative research. As a relatively new science, health psychology seeks to explore and understand how and why individuals think, feel, believe, and perceive. Quantitative research is prevalent in the field as well, and often times a qualitative study will instigate further quantitative research.


Creswell, J. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Glanz, K., Rimer, B. K., & Viswanath, K. (Eds.). (2008). Health behavior and health education: Theory, research, and practice (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009a). Qualitative Methods: Two Examples. Baltimore: Author.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009b). Quantitative Methods: An Example. Baltimore: Author.

Lichtman, M. (2006). Qualitative research in education: A user’s guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Marks, D. F., Murray, M., Evans, B., & Estacio, E. V. (2011). Health Psychology: Theory, Research, and Practice (3rd ed.). London: Sage.

No comments:

Post a Comment