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Why Qualitative

Dr. Kate Hefferon (University of East London)
European Positive Psychology Conference
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
July 2014

Answer 'why qualitative research?

Review Epistemological positioning of qualitative inquiry
Highlight the most widely used qualitative methodologies
Reflect upon the importance of quality within qualitative
Situate the subsequent papers
Why qualitative?

Understand the intricacies of optimal human functioning

Acknowledges (and celebrates) human messiness and complexity
Gain an in-depth understanding of an individual and their experiences
Can be used to help clarify surprising results or explore uncharted territories
Understand contextual (historical, cultural and societal) influences on the
Qualitative research gives a human side to a human discipline
(Willig, 2008; Langdridge, 2004b, 2004e)
Examples of Epistemology, methodology and methods
Keeping quality in Qualitative research
Quality checks to ensure rigor and systematic processes
Qualitative research in general
Methodology specific

Transparency of the method

Evidence grounded in data
Reflexivity of researcher
Impact and importance
Focusing on the person in positive psychology

Move away from the scientific method as the only way to

Research across the epistemological spectrum in order to
represent the voices of all participants
IPPA: Where is the person in Positive Psychology (Hefferon, Waters,
Ashfield & Synard, 2013)

Journal of Positive Psychology Special Edition on Qualitative

Thank you
References and further reading
Creswell, J. (2008). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (3rd
ed). London: SAGE Publications.

Elliott, R., Fischer, C.T., & Rennie, D.L. (1999). Evolving guidelines for publication of qualitative research
studies in psychology and related fields. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 38, 215-229.

Langdridge, D. (2004). Introduction to research methods and data analysis in psychology. London:
Pearson Education.

Smith, J.A., Flowers, P. and Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: Theory, Method,
Research. London: Sage.

Smith, J.A., & Osborn, M. (2008). Interpretative phenomenological analysis. In J.A. Smith (Ed.),
Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to research methods. (2nd ed., pp.53-80). London: Sage

Willig, C. (2008). Introducing qualitative research in psychology: Adventures in theory and method.
Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.

Yardley, L. (2000). Dilemmas in qualitative research. Psychology and Health, 15, 215-228.