Qualitative v Quantitative

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What you need to know…

One of the key questions for HL Psychology students to know the answer to is:

“What is the difference between quantitative data and qualitative data?”

Research in psychology can be divided into two major categories:

  1. Quantitative
  2. Qualitative

It is important to understand the difference between quantitative data and qualitative data.

Data in research simply means the information that is gathered in the study. In experiments, for instance, data means the results – the information gathered to draw conclusions. The data in experimental research are the dependent variable. Quantitative data can be shown in numbers. For example, in my gardening experiment the data are the lengths in centimetres that my plants grew.

Qualitative data, on the other hand, cannot be written in numbers. They are descriptions or whole sentences. “Plant 23b has lush foliage and the base of the plant is strong. Fruit seems to be growing at a quicker rate.” These are qualitative data because they are descriptive and often involve a value judgement.

To put  it simply, quantiative research deals in investigating human behaviour by quantifying that behaviour so it can be measured in numbers and statistics. Experiments, correlational studies, and meta-analyses are some of the quantitative methods used in Psychology. Quantitative research often tries to investigate cause and effects, or correlations between factors and behaviour.

Qualitative research, on the other hand, is based on the assumption that human behaviour is far more complex than to be reduced to numbers. It is not as concerned with explaining human behaviour but more interested describing it. It recognises that there is still value in understanding people’s subjective experiences of particular phenomena.

Your Task

Watch the video of the famous experiments called “The Boby Doll Experiments” conducted by Albert Bandura.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zerCK0lRjp8]

The data gathered in these experiments could be quantitative or qualitative.

“Working with a partner you are to come up with five examples of possible quantitative data and five examples of possible qualitative data that could have been gathered. “

Show me when you’ve finished. After you’ve shown me and had your work checked, you can read the original summary of the study and decide if it gathered quantitative or qualitative data.

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