THE UNIVERSITY OF ZIMBABWE
BSc HONOURS IN PSYCHOLOGY
COURSE AND CODE
QUALITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS IN PSYCHOLOGY (PSY 212)
“Qualitative research methods are designed to help researchers understand individuals, the social and cultural context within which they stay. Understanding the phenomena from the point of view of the individual and its particular social and institutional context is largely lost when textual data is quantified” (Myers, 1997). Discuss the above statement in relation to qualitative and quantitative approaches in psychological research.
In understanding the tenets behind psychological research, researchers are largely influenced by the two paradigms: qualitative and quantitative. A basic meaning of these paradigms is a way of thinking at a particular time in trying to understand, control and predict human behaviour. From these two parallel strands is born the four: ontology, epistemology, human nature and methodology. Qualitative research is subjective in nature as it assess that social phenomena and their meanings are continually being accomplished by the social actor and the data obtain is contextual whereas quantitative research is objective in nature as it search for concepts and universal laws to explain reality and generalisations are made from the data obtained. Different arguments have risen concerning the superiority of which method in psychological research but what have been noted is that the applicability of each method depends on the research problem. In some instances there is triangulation of the methodologies to enhance studies as shortfalls of one are usually compensated by the strengths of the other, for example, qualitative research is time consuming and resource expensive whereas quantitative research is usually faster and serving and does not ignore the minorities. Much of how these two paradigms in psychological research work are articulated in this essay.
In qualitative research researchers always present a social version of reality rather than one that can be regarded as definitive. So to understand social phenomena, one has to get an in depth of the social phenomena under study. Thus, the nature of qualitative research “help researchers understand individuals, the social and cultural contexts within which they stay” because of the methods it employs like ethnology. Therefore, subjectivists focus on how individuals interpret the world and see things as more relativist. Patton (2001: 39) states that qualitative research uses a naturalistic approach that seeks to understand phenomena in context-specific settings, such as “real world setting where the researcher does not attempt to manipulate the phenomena of interest”. If then qualitative research is context-specific, it means that as the researchers immense themselves in the study they automatically find themselves acquiring the cultures or knowledge of the individuals under study. Strauss and Corbin (1990:17) notes that qualitative research broadly defined means “any kind of research that produces findings not arrived at by means of statistical procedures or other means of quantification”. Therefore one can argue that since qualitative research does not quantify data it enables researchers to have data that is rich since it produces findings arrived at from the real-world settings where the phenomena of interest unfolds naturally.
Qualitative research is concerned with the richness of the data and texture of raw data because their inductive approach emphasise developing insights and generalisations out of the data collected. Most of the data gathering techniques employed in qualitative research include in-depth interviews, focus group interviews-structured or non-structured interviews, focus group discussions, documentary search, participant...
References: Brown, S. D. and Lock, A. (2008) Social Psychology. In Willing, C and Stainton-Rogers (Eds), The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research in Psychology. London: Sage pp 373-389.
Bogdan, R. C. and Bicklen P. (1998) Qualitative Research in Education: An Introduction to theory and methods. (3rd edition). Needham Heights MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Campbell, T. (1996) Technology, multimedia and qualitative research in education. Journal of research in computing in Education 30(9), 122-133.
Corbin, J. M. (1998) Alternative Interpretations: Valid or not? Theory and Psychology. 8, 121-128.
Dooley, D. (1990) Social Research Methods. University of California. Irvine
Golafshani, N. (2003) Understanding Relialibility and Validity in Qualitative research. The Qualitative Report Volume 8(4) 597-608.
Hoepfl,M. C. (1997) Choosing qualitative research. Journal of research methods. 9(1), 47-63
Michelle, J. (2003) The quantitative imperative: positivism, naive realism and the place of qualitative methods in psychology. Theory and Psychology 13(1), 5-13.
Parker, I. (2005) Qualitative Psychology: Introducing radical research. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Potter, J. (1996) Representing Reality: Discourse, rhetoric and social construction. London: Sage.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document