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PSY232: Research Methods in Psychology (Zahm): Quantitative Research

What is Quantitative Research?

Quantitative research objectively measures psychological phenomena to enable statistical analysis, reducing phenomena to numerical values, and applying statistical operations to these to test hypotheses. 

Qualitative research attempts to be as objective as possible and to control experimental conditions. 

For example, a researcher might interview the survivors of a mass shooting event by asking them to rank their feelings of anxiety using a pre-determined scale.

Common Quantitative Research Methods

Book

Archival Research

A research applies their own analytical model to data that has already been collected. They attempt to answer a new question or discover a new trend by looking at data.

Typical sources of archival data include census data, court records, medical records, and even case files.

Survey

Questionnaires

Participants are asked a standard set of questions. These questions may be delivered in writing or through an interview format.

There are three main types of questionnaire methods: random sampling, stratified sampling, and convenience sampling

Field

Applied and Field Research

When using applied research, researchers are trying to find a solution to an immediate, practical problem.

Examples include reducing drug use or improving worker happiness.

Field research is a type of applied research that is undertaken in a non-laboratory setting. These settings may include a hospital or workplace.

Beaker

Experimental Research

Research conducted in a controlled environment. These students help scholars in the field to learn more about psychological processes such as cognition or emotional development.

 

Study Design

The design of the study refers to the means by which the research question will be addressed, specifically in relation to the data that will be collected, the comparison that will be made, the experimental conditions (if any) that will be manipulated, and so on. 

If s study is poorly designed in the first place, there it many never be possible to meaningful interpret the data which result from it.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths
Finding can be generalized to the population at large
Samples can be selected to ensure the results are representative
Estimates can be obtained as to the magnitude and distribution of impacts

Clear documentation can be provided

Standardized approaches
Control for extraneous variables
Weaknesses
Many times of information may be difficult to obtain through data collection instruments
Many groups may be difficult to satisfactorily represent
Self-reporting may be inaccurate 
No information regarding contextual factors
Unnatural situations may alienate respondents
Research methods are inflexible

 

The Difference between Qualitative and Quantitative Research

  Qualitative Research Quantitative Research
Question Interest Hypothesis
Method Curiosity and reflexivity Control and randomization
Data Collection Viewpoint Response
Outcome Accounts Dependent variable
Data Textual Numerical
Sample size Small (saturation) Large (power)
Context Highlighted Eliminated
Analysis Synthesis Rejection of null