Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research
Both quantitative and qualitative models seek to explain patterns in behavior, but the former is mathematical and the latter is more descriptive.
Distinguish between quantitative and qualitative research methods
- Quantitative Research is defined as the systematic empirical investigation of social phenomena via statistical, mathematical or computational techniques, to develop and employ mathematical models, theories and/or hypotheses pertaining to phenomena.
- Quantitative research is conducted using scientific methods such as: the generation of models, theories and hypothses; the development of instruments and methods for measurement; experimental control and manipulation of variables; collection of empirical data; and modeling and analysis of data.
- Qualitative Research is the examination, analysis and interpretation of observations for the purpose of discovering underlying meanings and patterns of relationships, including classifications of types of phenomena and entities, in a manner that does not involve mathematical models.
- A Qualitative researcher helps obtain in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior (why and how, not just what, where, when). Smaller, more focused samples are required than with quantitative research methods.
- Examples of Qualitative Approaches used in collecting data Include: storytelling, classical ethnography, interviews (via phone or in-person), and focus group discussions.
- ethnography: The branch of anthropology that scientifically describes specific human cultures and societies.
- Focus Group: A group of people, sampled from a larger population, interviewed in open session for market research or political analysis.
- Empirical Data: Data derived from reliable measurement or observation.
What is Quantitative Research?
Quantitative Research is defined as the systematic empirical investigation of social phenomena via statistical, mathematical or computational techniques. Its objective is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories and/or hypotheses pertaining to phenomena. At its core, quantitative research is used to identify patterns and predict behavior. This type of research is used in business, marketing and in social sciences such as psychology, economics, sociology, and political science, and, less frequently, in anthropology and history.
Quantitative research is generally conducted using scientific methods, which can include:
- The generation of models, theories and hypothses
- The development of instruments and methods for measurement
- Experimental control and manipulation of variables
- Collection of empirical data
- Modeling and analysis of data
What is Qualitative Research?
Qualitative Research is the examination, analysis and interpretation of observations for the purpose of discovering underlying meanings and patterns of relationships, including classifications of types of phenomena and entities, in a manner that does not involve mathematical models. For example, in the social sciences, qualitative research methods are often used to gain better understanding of such things as intentionality (from the speech response of the researchee) and meaning (why did this person/group say something and what did it mean to them?).
This research asks broad questions and collects word data from participants. Qualitative methods produce information only on the particular cases studied, and any more general conclusions are only hypotheses. Unlike quantitative methods which are used to identify patterns and make predictions, qualitative research aims to explain behavior.
Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern it. The qualitative method investigates the why and how of consumer behavior, not just what, where, when. Hence, smaller but focused samples are more often needed than the large samples required of quantitative methods.
Qualitative researchers typically rely on the following methods for gathering information: Participant Observation, Non-participant Observation, Field Notes, Reflexive Journals, Structured Interview, Semi-structured Interview, Unstructured Interview, and Analysis of documents and materials.
The Following Are Some Examples of Qualitative Approaches Used in Collecting Data:
- Classical Ethnography
- Interviews (phone or in-person)
- Focus Group discussions
In a focus group, a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs and attitudes towards a specific product, service, concept, advertisement, idea or packaging. It is conducted in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with each other.