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Discuss the Relative Advantages and Disadvantages of Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods as They Are Employed in Psychology.

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By fatparker
Words 939
Pages 4
In the early days, psychology was known as the science of the mind, then shifted focus to behaviour in the 1950s, and has since swung back to the mind, but, however chequered its history may have been, it has remained predominantly shaded by the science umbrella.
As Searle (1999) points out “academic psychology has placed great importance on the use of scientific approaches”, which has resulted in an emphasis on quantitative research methods, centred on collection of numerical data and statistical analysis (the empirical approach).
However, since the 1960s there has been increasing criticism of such reliance on the quantitative data-collection characteristics of the scientific method, which has developed over subsequent decades into a strong shift towards more qualitative approaches. This has led to the somewhat inevitable, yet ultimately unhelpful, divide between competing methods: quantitative versus qualitative.
According to Bauer, et al (2000), quantitative research deals with numbers, makes use of statistical models to explain the data and is considered ‘hard’ research, whereas qualitative research avoids numbers, involves interpretation of social realities and is considered ‘soft research. Both approaches, however, have their strengths and weaknesses.
The strengths of quantitative research, as outlined by Burns (2000), includes precision and control – precision is achieved through quantitative and reliable measurement, control through sampling and design. Further, “experimentation leads to statements about causation” in that the systematic manipulation of a variable, in an environment where other variables have been eliminated or controlled, can be shown to have a direct causal effect on another. Finally, quantitative data allows statistical analysis.
Coolican (1999) points out that the pure quantitative position deems measurement to be fundamental to...

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