Qualitative psychological research - Qualitative and...

Qualitative psychological research

The presence in psychology of two trends - descriptive and explanatory, leads internal psychological disputes to a dead end. Vygotsky emphasized this confrontation and suggested that the development of psychology is connected, first of all, with the withering away of one of them. This useless from the point of view of practice, the psychological paradigm consists of phenomenology, descriptive and subjective psychology.

However, qualitative, descriptive, phenomenological tendencies, having found their supporters, are actively developing to this day. Analysis of the phenological theories of E. Husserl, V. Deltei, K. Jaspers, L. Bisnevanger, H. Ellenberger, J.-P. Sartre, M. Merleau-Ponty, M. Boss, R. Laing, V. Frankl and others allows us to conclude that a qualitative approach from the study of individual phenomena passes to the study of the whole being of the subject in the world.

The basic idea of ​​a qualitative approach as phenomenology is the idea expressed by M. M. Bakhtin that the essence of an individual, assessed through an act, can be adequately identified only through the specifics of that personality. Misunderstanding of it appears due to the evaluation of the latter from the outside, abstractly and generalized. "Everything taken independently, irrespective of the single value center of the outgoing responsibility of the deed, is deconcrete and deregulated, loses value, emotional-volitional vigor, becomes an empty abstract-general possibility." MM Bakhtin developed a whole complex of categories-principles, which are the basis of the phenomenological method. This is the "world of action," "co-being", "dialogue", "foreign speech", "polyphony," "saying", "text", "understanding" In particular, methodologically the central to qualitative research is the understanding of the word, text and utterance as an object and object of psychological analysis. Where there is no text, there is no object for research and thinking. " The text and the statement have two poles, one of which is a sign (language), and the other is a sense for the individual, the ratio of which largely determines the success of a qualitative analysis of the person's deed.

Qualitative Research - is the name for a new and distinctive field of study. It is often called the phenomenological method.

Phenomenology is used in psychology in those cases when a thorough descriptive, non-premise research of a phenomenon is assumed. As E. Husserl pointed out, this is a form of investigating the relationships of the sign, subject referents, the meanings and structure of experiences, the ways of everyday perception of things and the work of consciousness that ensures the connectivity, meaningfulness and safety of human experience in time.

Qualitative, descriptive-interpretative forms are actively used by domestic psychologists. Qualitative analysis of empirical data is an integral part of any pilot study, although the principles and procedures are not clearly defined. At present, the qualitative approach is more like a generation of psychological knowledge at the level of a special phenomenon that requires further structuring, study and refinement. To qualitative research today include all sorts of phenomenological, narrative procedures, discourse analysis and other soft strategies for studying psychological phenomena that have relatively recently appeared in the social sciences.

In addition to the fact that the carrier of an object in qualitative research is not numbers, but words (texts, utterances) also highlight their procedural features, which we will discuss below.

The set of actually methods is common to all qualitative studies. It includes unstructured interviews, observation, analysis of documents, audiovisual materials, etc.

The results obtained with these methods are the so-called "qualitative data", which are subjected to the corresponding analysis. Schemes of such analysis are different. AM Ulanovsky, referring to authorities, cites one of them, consisting of the following stages:

1. Primary reading of data, including a holistic perception of the text, inserting notes and comments into it.

2. Highlighting the semantic units of the text. At this stage, according to A. Georgie, meaningful words are called semantic units, any discernible logical transitions, changes in the narrative. A list of non-recurring semantic units relating to one type of experience is compiled ("individual structure of experiences"). These lists can be compared with the lists of experiences of other participants in the analyzed event. Sometimes a common list of statements can be compiled with a calculation of the percentage of participants' protocols.

3. Conversion of semantic units, including the transformation (simplification and reformulation) of semantic units in more strict terms while maintaining a connection with the original language, which is original and specific to the situation.

4. Grouping of semantic units by subject. At this stage, in fact, it is planned to cluster data on generalized topics. Sometimes it is possible to check the correctness of cluster formation using a zigzag procedure, i.e. checking the texts in the opposite direction (the investigated semantic unit corresponds to the aspect of the topic and reflects it, but whether the topic is suitable for the phenomenon being investigated, whether it constitutes the meaning of the act, etc.). At this stage it is possible to rank the semantic units by importance in the studied experience of the event.

5. The wording of the structural description. The researcher produces a synthetic description studied phenomenon, i.e. brings the semantic units into a structure for a certain reason. For example, during the analysis of management problems AI Prigozhin showed that problems in terms of importance and interconnectedness can be root (are the cause of other problems), nodal (they are a consequence of some problems and cause subsequent ones), resulting (are the consequence of other problems) and autonomous (ns are a consequence of other problems). Ways of forming this structure can be a blank scheme or a technique of paired comparisons.

As a result, the semantic units constitute a certain semantic field that describes the causal content of the subject's experiences in the situation under study.

Adhering to qualitative approaches, the researchers proceed from at least two considerations. The first reflects the desire to find new ways of obtaining psychological knowledge that can not be covered by quantitative methods, and the second is the vision of the main mission of qualitative research in criticizing and reforming the academic quantitative representations of most psychologists.

The heterogeneity and versatility of qualitative research create certain difficulties in developing a unified definition of this field of psychological knowledge.

As some authors point out, supporters of a qualitative approach to psychological research, there are at least two criteria by which qualitative studies can be determined: 1) words as type data and analysis tools, and 2) a special research approach, or epistemology .

1. Words as a data type and analysis tool. The event carrier or (hereinafter) is a word. Qualitative data is any information collected by the researcher, which is expressed not in numbers, but in words: some content allocated by the researcher from the protocols of observation, interviews, documents and audio-visual materials and formulated, coded and transmitted to them verbally. Differences between qualitative and quantitative methods, J. Day indicates, are comparable with the differences between meanings and mathematical statistics.

Qualitative data, expressed in words, are more "rich", informative, authentic, more subjective. The latter is often exhibited as a significant argument in the criticism of apologists of quantitative methods in psychology. Subjectivity, in their opinion, often leads to low standardization of qualitative data, which makes it impossible to reproduce them in other conditions by other researchers. However, in the arsenal of adherents of qualitative analysis there are not only verbal expressive forms (texts). They can include a wide range of cultural and social artifacts: images, drawings, photographs, audio and video materials, design of interior spaces and external spaces, objects of culture and life, media, music, architecture, etc.

What is important is that qualitative methods as special forms of text analysis assume the study of the content of expressions and texts, rather than their statistical connections and generalizations.

Procedures for the analysis of quality materials began to be actively developed in psychology and other social sciences since the late 1970s. Currently, there are a number of approaches to sorting, coding, highlighting patterns and categories of research. Examples of such directions are: M. Patton's interpretative approach; the network approach of J. Bliss; quasi-statistical approach of M. Miles and A. Huberman; well-grounded theory B. Glaser, A. Strauss and J. Corbin; phenomenological analysis of A. Georgie; a narrative analysis of E. J. Mishler et al.

These directions, as J. Dey pointed out, are aimed at solving the main tasks - the categorization of qualitative data and the establishment of links between categories.

The bulk of qualitative research is based on the analysis of words (expressions, text), which are grouped, clustered, broken into semiotic segments and organized so that they can be compared and identify the semantic units. This is achieved through the application of various procedures. Among the most typical of them are noted: the allocation of phrases, patterns, themes, metaphors, their clustering, comparison, counting, generalization, comparison with existing constructs or concepts.

Existing schools of qualitative research and their representatives can be arranged on a certain scale, on the one hand, poles will be strictly formalized analysis, and on the other hand - interpretive. The first pole is distinguished by the use of clear information-coding principles and procedures, and the second is more free from methodological guidelines that allow for consideration and fixation of intuitive assumptions in the study of data and their in-depth interpretation. Both sides of qualitative analysis suggest the manifestation of the researcher's own creativity.

Thus, qualitative data should be understood as what is expressed in words and utterances in natural language, and under quantitative - numerical constructions. However, it should be borne in mind that quantitative assessments are used in qualitative studies (for example, a scale of names or an ordinal scale), i.e. so-called fuzzy scales or sets. The same applies to quantitative measurements, when the result obtained is subject to the necessary verbal interpretation.

2. The second criterion of qualitative research is the process itself, the procedure for transmitting information, the discovery of the causes of knowledge, or qualitative epistemology.

Among the procedural features this approach the authors stand out: 1) the preference field forms of work, focus on the contextual description of the phenomenon and situational analysis; 2) analysis of the social context of the event; 3) Using saturated facts and therefore a complete and holistic description of the phenomenon (the pursuit of wealth and holism); 4) interest in individuality and single cases; 5) an inductive approach to data; 6) flexibility and lack of standardization of data and procedures; 7) consideration of the subject as an expert in his own life situation; 8) focusing on language as a means of analyzing the event; 9) orientation to the study of meanings and experiences; 10) interpretation of the researcher as an instrument, reliance on his reflection.

Field work preference is one of the main features of quality research. Attention at the same time concentrates on the daily activities of the subjects in a natural setting, direct contact with them within the live of the situation. Fieldwork assumes a relatively long entry of the researcher into the studied social groups, communities and the use of included observation, conversations, empathy. The long residence time of the researcher in the studied environment significantly increases the reliability of the data and the methods used in comparison with the single "slices" often used in the experiment.

Analysis of the social context of the event involves the preparation and consideration of cultural, social, historical, ideological, political, ritual-traditional, communication conditions of life of the subjects. Researchers who are in the positions of qualitative analysis, for the most part do not recognize any so-called "universal" laws and structures of the psyche that exist outside the social context.

Qualitative analysis assumes the use of saturated facts and therefore a complete and holistic description of the phenomenon ( the pursuit of wealth and holism). It means the desire of researchers to obtain the maximally rich details, multilateral, systematized, holistic descriptions of the studied phenomena.

The interest in singular, exceptional, specific cases is also an important condition for qualitative research. This circumstance is based on the paradigmatic error of the quantitative approach, which bases its measurements on large aggregates and the frequency-typological principle. This principle has many adherents, because "life can move forward only by large sets". But isolated cases suggest the identification of regularities, and the evaluation of specific exceptions. Statistical regularities of development, P. Teilhard de Chardin wrote, are inherent in the "weak foci of consciousness", more complex conscious beings evolve individualized.

The inductive approach involves collecting and analyzing empirical data beyond any previously established theories. The collection of data leads to the emergence of hypotheses and concepts, and not vice versa, as it happens in the experiment. That is why qualitative research is presented as a way of preliminary study of a certain psychological phenomenon, discovery, exploration, development of new theories and hypotheses regarding the phenomenon under investigation.

Flexibility, lack of standardization of data, reliance on non-rigid design is an important feature of qualitative research, which in classical science is considered a defect rather than a virtue. But, since in the qualitative analysis the researcher himself becomes a certain "measuring device", his notes, meaningful observations, comparisons are translated into the form of a narrative and are not subjected to verification. The idea of ​​this provision boils down to the conviction that the researcher himself, having a certain experience, is able to approach the level of the proof of the phenomenon being studied, not inferior to statistical confirmation.

Interpretation of the subject as an expert of the event under consideration consists in presenting the person (the participant of the event) not as a passive observer, experimental, but as a knowledgeable expert with relevant unique experience. A person knows the situation better than others, because he is in it, lives and acts. Therefore, the study uses a data verification procedure to make them more reliable when the details of the event are discussed with the subject, the results and conclusions are refined, and corrections and additions are made.

Focusing on the language as a means of analyzing the event involves speech analysis of the subjects, tests, communicative units, discourse, etc. The features of working with the language in qualitative research are: a) consideration of natural, natural language as a means of representing the psychological reality of human experience; b) the use of everyday or expressive language, allowing the most truthful and understandable description of the phenomenon; c) keeping the original language, the way of expression, description, categorization.

In qualitative studies, focuses on the study of meanings and experiences, which specifically reflect the relationship to phenomena, events, people and things. Through experiences and emotions, the researcher most adequately approaches the meaning of the events to which the subjects are participants.

Researchers- qualifiers consider that the approach to a true assessment of events is possible only when reflection of the phenomenon under investigation by a psychologist. Subjective experiences and reflective self-reports of the researcher can be very valuable and unique sources of knowledge about the phenomenon being studied .

Thus, taking into account the above features, qualitative research is a complex study of psychological phenomena based on the field form of work, involving the collection of detailed descriptions of experiences and meanings, processing data using special procedures for analyzing the text, interpreting it in a sociocultural context, strict standardization, attention to individual cases, reliance on the point of view of the surveyed people and the reflection of the researcher himself.

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