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RAINBOW RESEARCH, INC.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN
QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

Quantitative Researchers Qualitative Researchers


Assume an objective social reality. Assume that the participants in it construct
social reality.
Assume that social reality is relatively constant Assume that social reality is continuously
across time and settings. constructed in local situations.
View causal relationships among social Assign human intentions a major role in
phenomena from a mechanical perspective. explaining causal relationships among social
phenomena.
Take an objective, detached stance toward Become personally involved with research
research participants and their setting. participants, to the point of sharing
perspectives and assuming a caring attitude.
Study populations or sample that represent Study cases.
populations.
Study behavior and other observable Study the meanings that individuals create and
phenomena. other internal phenomena.
Study human behavior in natural or contrived Study human actions in natural settings.
settings.
Analyze social reality into variables. Make holistic observations of the total context
within which social action occurs.
Use preconceived concepts and theories to Discover concepts and theories after data have
determine what data will be collected. been collected.
Generate numerical data to represent the social Generate verbal and pictorial data to represent
environment. the social environment.
Use statistical methods to analyze data. Use analytic induction to analyze data.
Use statistical inference procedures to Generalize case findings by searching for other
generalize findings from a sample to a defined similar cases.
population.
Prepare impersonal, objective reports of Prepare interpretive reports that reflect
research findings. researchers’ constructions of the data and an
awareness that the readers will form their own
constructions from what is reported.

Gall, M.D., Borg, W.R., & Gall, J.P. (1996), p. 30

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www.rainbowresearch.org