The ratio of qualitative and quantitative approaches in psychology...

The ratio of qualitative and quantitative approaches in psychology

In the confrontation of qualitative and quantitative paradigms in the methodology of psychological research, there are more minuses than pluses. Proponents of a qualitative approach criticize the quantifiers for avoiding real psychological phenomena, reducing psychology to the indicator, the figure. Adherents of generalized explanatory concepts, on the contrary, pay attention to the fact that the phenomenon studied is extracted by "qualitative" in the process of communicating with participants in events, who sometimes do not understand and can not formulate the essence of their experiences. Many informants in their active language simply do not have words expressing or describing the phenomenon being studied, which indicates that it is not possible to ascertain any adequate assessment with respect to the proposed construct. "

To. Glesne and A. Peshkin define a number of positions on which qualitative and quantitative approaches differ.

1. Quantitative research allows for the objective reality of social phenomena, the dominance of the method, the ability to measure psychological variables and their relationships, while qualitative analysis presupposes the possibility of constructing social reality, the priority of the subject of research, the complexity and complexity of measuring variables.

2. The goal of quantitative research is generalization, prediction and causal explanation, and qualitative - interpretation, contextualization and understanding of the principles of life and actions of individuals.

3. The application of quantitative methods is based on hypotheses, manipulation and control of variables, formalization, reduction, rationing, use of scales, numerical indexes, etc. are used. Qualitative methods take into account the spontaneity of the phenomenon. They are characterized by reliance on the opinion of the subject, proximity to a concrete reality, consideration of the multifacetedness and integrity of the phenomenon, the recording of the experiences and feelings of the subjects, the reflector and intuition of the researcher, the descriptiveness of phenomena, the lack of numerical data, the expressiveness of words. In addition, qualitative research ends with hypotheses and concepts.

4. The role of the researcher in quantitative procedures is characterized by detachment, objectivity, impartiality, and in qualitative it is associated with personal involvement and empathic understanding of the subject and his behavior.

Generalized data on the difference in the approaches considered are reflected in Table. 2.2.

Table 2.2

Comparative characteristics of the specifics, possibilities and limitations of quantitative and qualitative methods


Quantitative method

Qualitative method




Characterizing concepts

Experimental, quantitative data, statistics

Descriptive, natural, word-oriented



Variables, operationalization, validity, reliability, norm, hypothesis, statistical significance, repeatability

Meaning, understanding common sense, process, social construction, theme, believability


Structured, pre-deterministic, formal, specific, detailed plan of operations

Meaning, understanding common sense, process, social construction, themes, plausibility


Large, multilayered, control groups, strict, arbitrary choice, control of external variables

Small, theoretical examples, case studies that involve the inclusion of a large number of contexts

Techniques, methods and techniques

Experiment, structured interview, quasi-experiment, structured observation, data series, tests

Enabled observation, unstructured interview, study of documents and artifacts, analysis of video, photo and audio materials


Quantitative, operationalized variables, quantified coding, statistical, counted

Descriptive, everyday speech, personal documents, field notes, artifacts, official documents, audio and video recordings, transcripts

Tools and Tools

Questionnaires, descriptions, scales, test scores, computers, indexes

Audio, videotapes, reproducing devices, records, the researcher himself

Data Analysis

Deductive, statistical, logical, modeling

Inductive, description-modeling, thematic, conceptual, method of comparative constants


















Application Problems

Control of external variables, determination of the theoretical approach, validity

Temporary cost, non-standardized procedure, reliability

From the point of view of K. Reijin, the key difference between qualitative and quantitative methods is that the supporters of the first approach work with several cases and a lot of variables, and the apologists of the quantitative paradigm base their conclusions on several variables and a lot of cases.

Some authors suggest a way out of the created contradiction by improving or qualitative, or quantitative procedures, others suggest the "third way" - methodological triangulation , i.e. integration of qualitative and quantitative approaches, accompanied by a rationale for the ways and mechanisms of this integration.

J. Green and V. Caracelli suggest five possible combinations: 1) checking the consistency of data obtained by using qualitative and quantitative methods; 2) addition by illustrating or explaining data obtained by some methods, the results of another method; 3) development of results obtained by one method, data obtained by another type of methods; 4) initiation or correction of data obtained by one method, data from other methods; 5) enrichment or detailing of studies by results obtained by different methods.

B. Brittier writes that triangulation combines independent and complementary methods: to improve the description of the processes being studied; the identification of the chronology of events; presentation of the grounds of apparent validity; verification of the validity of research results; understanding and contextual representation of the results of the study of the psychological phenomenon.

M. Duffy gives a number of advantages of using methodological triangulation: 1) qualitative methods are used to construct the conceptual base of research; 2) Verification of qualitative data using quantitative methods; 3) qualitative data can be used to form indicators of quantitative techniques; 4) correct interpretation and external validation of quantitative methods using qualitative research; 5) clarification of vague answers of test subjects to test questions is achieved by rechecking using qualitative methods in the field; 6) quantitative methods can provide information to clarify the conceptual framework of the researcher; 7) the use of survey quantitative data can correct quantitative research; 8) Simultaneous use of quantitative methods can help verify field observations.

J. Morse proposed schemes for the joint application of qualitative and quantitative methods: simultaneous (parallel) and sequential. An example of consistent application is the scheme used in the selection of civil servants (Figure 2.2).

There are opponents in triangulation. Their arguments boil down to the fact that combining qualitative and quantitative data in practice is a complex matter, often leading to ambiguous, incommensurable conclusions because of differences in epistemological grounds, it is not possible to combine opposing theories in one research procedure.

The order of implementation and complementarity of qualitative and quantitative methods

Fig. 2.2. The order of implementation and complementarity of qualitative and quantitative methods

In the most general sense, qualitative research is a methodical system that reveals the reasons for acquiring knowledge (anticipates knowledge) on the basis of the preparation of verbal expressive material, real events. Scientific research should begin with qualitative research when searching for approaches to the implementation of empirical research (for formulating a problem, topic, hypothesis, etc.) and ending with them when as a result of generalization with the help of quantitative procedures the results are interpreted and put on a popular form of presentation , understandable to specialists or acceptable for ordinary consciousness and assimilation.

A large number of authors, supporters of triangulation, noted that the joint use of qualitative and quantitative methods will increase the reliability of research. The difference in approaches to research involves not only their opposition and criticism, but to a greater extent their mutual enrichment and complementation.

thematic pictures

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