Home > Uncategorized > Qualitative Vs Quantitative research

Qualitative Vs Quantitative research

Hello! Back again!  Hope everyone had a good Christmas and your exams all went well!

So, this time I’m going to be talking about the difference between qualitative and quantitative research, and which one might be better to use when collecting data.

First off, I’m going to briefly discuss the difference between the two.

Quantitative research

Quantitiative research is probably what most of us are used to: collecting numbers and figures and using SPSS to see what those numbers and figures mean.  Examples of this type of data are clinical trials or maybe a National Census.

Qualitative research

Qualitative research is used to explore more deeply, to help understand people’s beliefs, attitudes, experiences and behaviours.  In contrast to Quantitative research, it creates non-numerical data.  For example, description rather than a measure.  Qualitative research uses methods such as in-depth interviews and focus groups.


So, we have two contrasting ways of collecting data.  What are their strengths and weaknesses?

We have quantitative which can produce large amounts of data, the researcher knows clearly in advance what they are looking for, all aspects of the study are carefully designed before the experiment starts, the researcher can remain objective.

However, quantitative research does have it’s limitations.  It is not very flexible; there is no way to delve deeper into single participants as all participants answer the same set questions.  It can be very vulnerable to statistical error.

In the book Qualitative Data Analysis, quantitative researcher Fred Kerlinger is quoted as saying, “There’s no such thing as qualitative data. Everything is either 1 or 0”


On the other hand, qualitative research gives researchers a chance to change their questions as research is being conducted to find out more in-depth information and get richer data.  Qualitative research is flexible and highly focused.   Because the results are seen or heard first-hand, the researcher can relate to the findings easily.

Qualitative research, however, is not without it’s limitations.  The researcher may only know roughly in advance what they are looking for, it is very subjective and relies on the researcher’s own ideas and way of interpreting the data they collect, it often uses a small sample size which means that results are not easily generalized.



So, with both having such strengths and weaknesses, how can it be possible to say which is the better one to use?

Some researchers believe that qualitative and quantitative methods can’t be combined because the assumptions underlying each are too different.

Other researchers think that they can be used together if the methods are alternated.  Qualitative and quantitative methods are right for certain conditions in their own rights.

Some researchers think that both methods can be used together to answer the same research question.

With so much disagreement, even between researchers, I don’t think it is actually possible to say which is the better one to use.

I personally think that it would be best to use a qualitative method to find out more about a research question, and then use a quantitative method to get more data.





So, that’s it from me. See you all next time 🙂






Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 7, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    You have examined the purposes of qualitative and quantitative methods thoroughly and have provided examples for each type. It is important to consider that even though using quantitative methods reinforces the idea that Psychology is a science, qualitative methods provides us with data that is simply not accessible via quantitative methods. For example, one cannot determine a person’s feelings and thoughts through the use of SPSS or by conducting the mean and the median, and these feelings and thoughts hold more value that the value computed by SPSS. Therefore, researchers who use qualitative methods should not have their research criticised for having a ‘lack of scientific evidence’ as qualitative methods tell us a whole lot more than quantitative methods could ever reveal.

  2. February 8, 2012 at 1:20 am

    Really good balanced arguement of both qualitative and quantitative methods, I agree that it is almost impossible to say which is the bettter method as both have their stengths and weaknesses. I would suggest that maybe you could have used some supporting evidence to back up your opinion at the end of your blog and argue why you believe that qualitative research would be best to answer a research question. A strong thesis statement at the beginning of your blog with some evidence to back it up would of made your blog even better. Although, it seemed more that you did not really have a strong favourite and so maybe you could discuss using both methods together rather than having to choose which is better.

  3. February 8, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Scientists mainly support the use of quantitative data, but do not realise that without qualitative data, quantitative research would not be conducted! The outcome of a qualitative study is a hypothesis. A small population or single case study is deeply researched to uncover the way of life, pattern in behaviour or finding about a person/small sample. This new trend is the basis for quantitative testing, which occurs to see if the findings of a few can be generalised to many. In my opinion, all quantitative hypotheses have come from phenomena first studied qualitatively. This is why qualitative data should never be dismissed, ignored or under-appreciated as I feel it often is by quantitative fanatics.

  4. February 9, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    I agree with what you have said and good points have been made. Both quantitative and qualitative have their strengths and weaknesses and it is down to a matter or opinion if one thinks one methodology is better than the other. Many scientists prefer quantitative data because if gives you black and white data with solid figures in number forms that can not be misinterpreted. However this may be acceptable in something like physics but psychology is the study of human behaviour and therefore can not truly be understood without the help of qualitative research like case studies to understand an individual. Therefore it is hard to say which is better.

  5. February 10, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    This was a really good balanced argument; however I think that which type of testing you decide to use needs to be based on which type of study you are doing. Although it is great to have a mix of both, sometimes I believe it is necessary to pick just one. For example if you are looking into behaviour and attitudes of a group in the population, using a qualitative study would be a much more favourable method. It is also widely used in Educational psychology, as it gains much stronger insights and meaning into a particular phenomenon. However in cognitive psychology for example, it would be very rare to use a qualitative study.

  6. February 10, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Good balanced blog however I would have to disagree with you on one point – that qualitative data should only be used when you have a certain research point.

    I personally feel that qualitative methods are good for the exact opposite and can be used to collect data on a topic that you have done little research on and want to develop further research questions possibly using quantitve methods. It is very subjective but surley that is an attribute needed more at the beginning of a research idea as your subjective ideas could be later proved (though of cause in science you never truly prove research) or disproved using objective and scientific methodolgies which do generally have a much higher ranking then their qualititative counterparts. I mean if a quantitive experiment was ‘disproved’ with qualitative data I wouldn’t personally think much of it and would still sway towards the original quantitative methods results. But that’s just me. Don’t know if everyone else would feel the same?

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  12. May 19, 2016 at 9:16 am

    I prefer using quantitative research though the timing of when you conduct the research can be difficult.

  1. February 8, 2012 at 1:46 am
  2. February 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm
  3. February 9, 2012 at 9:39 pm
  4. February 10, 2012 at 10:39 pm

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