What’s the Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research?

qualitative-vs-quantitativeThere are two general types of data and from what I’ve seen personally, these terms are sometimes confused, can get mixed up and used interchangeably. So, what are the differences?

Qualitative Research:

Is mostly exploratory research; this method is used to understand the opinions, trends in thought, principal reasons and motivations. The way I think about it is: anything to do with thinking, feeling or emotion. To help develop ideas or hypothesis for prospective research qualitative data is used to dive deeper into the problem. Qualitative data gathering methods differ using structured or semi-structured techniques, the most common being focus groups (group discussions), Participation/observations and individual interviews; the sample size is usually small using this method. Summary: Information about qualities, feelings; basically anything that cannot be measured.

Quantitative Research:

Is used to quantify the problem by generating numerical data used to statistics. This kind of research can be used to quantify opinions, attitudes, behaviors and many other defined variables. The key point with quantitative data is that it can generalize results from a bigger population. Unlike qualitative data, this provides a glimpse into the unknown by way of creating a stronger hypothesis. This kind of data discovers patterns in data that can formulate facts and unlike qualitative methods, quantitative methods are more structured. Data collection methods includes various forms of surveys, either: Online, paper, mobile or kiosk surveys. Also, telephone or face-to-face interviews, longitudinal studies, polls, web interceptors or systematic observations. Summary: Information about quantities, information that can be written down and measured using numbers.

Examples:

  • How many protein shakers do you own? (Quantitative.)
  • The hardness of that boiled egg you just f**ked up? (Qualitative.)
  • The amount of time you go to the gym per week? (Quantitative.)
  • The number of pounds in your holiday jar? (Quantitative.)
  • Happiness you feel on a Friday? (Qualitative.)
  • Amount of followers on Instagram. (Quantitative.)

I hope this helps clear up any confusion on this highly exhilarating study area of probability and statistics. I joke, but it’s pretty interesting to be able to create, understand and use these kinds of data collection  methods to explore the world around us. Have fun 😛

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