Qualitative - Term Overview

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The qualitative refers to the qualities of someone or the quality of something, insofar as it differs from the quantitative, which refers to the quantity or numerical or statistical values ​​of a fact or phenomenon. In scientific research, the cross between quantitative methods and qualitative methods has always been controversial, because quantitative methods were pioneers in being used in disciplines such as chemistry, physics, mathematics or medicine.

The social sciences, on the other hand, of more recent appearance, or at least the "hard" or exact sciences are older, began to consider that quantitative study methods didn't allow them to study in a deep and subjective way their objects of study that they are always human. The human is subjective by nature, and is a social being, so how could the social sciences use purely objective methods such as quantitative methods?

In simple words, we could ensure that quantitative research focuses on questions or objective questions such as when, how much, where, who, what or which; while qualitative research takes the why and how as its leading questions. This allows you not only to know percentages but also in what way the phenomena are produced and to study in depth the behavior and human interactions.

For example, suppose we are going to study a group of immigrants living in our city. We want to know how many there are, if the house is their own, if they have access to drinking water, how much money they earn per month, if the children go to school, if the children work or help their parents at work, etc. All this information gave us purely numerical data, that is, quantitative. But based on these data, we can establish descriptions of the situation of immigrants who live in our city, such as why they have or don't have housing, what the state does or doesn't do to improve their quality of life, what impact has children attend school or not, etc. All these derived information are qualitative in nature.

A resource used in marketing is the quality test of a product or service. A customer is given a product of such a brand to try, and it doesn't matter how much she received or in what address, but what advantages or disadvantages, benefits or points against the person can describe the product. The same is done with electronic devices, automobiles or services such as health or tourism, which after having bought / consumed them, the company communicates with us to know our opinion regarding the quality of said product or service.

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