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Qualitative and quantitative data

Qualitative and quantitative data

Data that describes meaning and experiences are known as qualitative data.

Data that focuses on numbers and frequencies are known as quantitative data.

Some core studies use methods that provide data that are quantitative, and some core studies use methods that provide data that are qualitative.

Quantitative data are those that focus on numbers and frequencies rather than on meaning and experience. Quantitative methods (e.g. experiments, questionnaires and psychometric tests) provide information that is easy to analyse statistically and is fairly reliable. Quantitative methods are associated with the scientific and experimental approach and are criticised for not providing an in depth description.

Qualitative data are those which are concerned with describing meaning, rather than with drawing statistical inferences. What qualitative methods (e.g. case studies and interviews) lose on reliability they gain in terms of validity. They provide a more in depth and rich description.

Quantitative and qualitative methods of collecting data have both come under considerable criticism. In modern research, most psychologists tend to adopt a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches, which allow statistically reliable information obtained from numerical measurement to be backed up and enriched by information about the research participants' explanations.

You will find that many of the core studies do collect both types of data.