The Paradigm Debate Essay

Published: 2020-01-28 20:00:14
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The heart of the debate between the quantitative and qualitative paradigms in research is based on the authenticity and correctness of the data gathered from each approach. I believe that the central debate is based on which paradigm best portrays what is real, what is scientific and what is valid. The endless debate of these two approaches will stay if not for the most part of the 21st century but a few more decades from now, since there has been slow development in the field of research methods (Mahoney & Goertz, 2006). The quantitative approach says that the rigors of science, the objectivity of the scientific approach and the use of statistics will generate the true picture of the problem as what the research had entailed to investigate.

On the other hand, the qualitative approach says that human life cannot be thought of as variables, experiments or even number because it takes out the essence of the social interaction, the emotional and mental processes involved in the experience or the behavior. In the past, the distinction between what data or variables lend itself better to quantitative approach and which data should be examined using the qualitative approach was clear (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003). But at the moment, the rising awareness of the qualitative approach as a valid research method and the quantitative approach becoming more cognizant of the less objective variables are in a battle to which approach will yield the most valid and truest result.

In the past the quantitative approach was the only way to do research, the introduction of anthropology and ethnographic researches have widened the research methodology of various disciplines (Salomon, 1991).  With it was the start of the unending debate over which approach was most beneficial to the research. The idea however is a far cry from the present state of mixed methods approach, recognizing that each approach had its own merits, a different breed of research approach now utilizes the two paradigms and calls it mixed methods approach.

As a student of psychology, I am inclined to favor the qualitative approach as it is more able to provide a deeper understanding and meaning of the variables being studied, it would make more sense to me to explore how bipolar construe friendships which can never be captured by the use of a quantitative friendship scale which offers less insight to the experiences and dynamics of friendships. However, the scientific part of me wants to believe in the wisdom of objectivity and science, I have been trained under the old school experimental and behavioral psychology which gave much importance to experimentation and control of variables. This would mean that my orientation towards research is that of the quantitative fervor.

Choosing which side to favor is like asking me to choose between the devil and the deep blue see, each approach presents a different understanding of the variables under study and I am often reminded of the nature and nurture debate which predominated the developmental psychology field. Therefore, I would rather say that I support the quantitative approach because it has been around far enough to at least become more refined to provide better measures and control for the study of variables  which in the past have been questioned with regards to the validity and reliability of the results of the study (Adcock & Collier, 2001).

Moreover, the quantitative approach is the form mostly accepted by the scientific community and therefore is more established and more credible, although it does not mean that all quantitative researches are excellently written but that some may have sacrificed the integrity of the conduct of the research due to budget constraints or a poorly designed research method (Mahoney & Goertz, 2006). The quantitative approach has reached an almost cult like following and dissenters have naturally went to support the qualitative approach but whichever it is, I am convinced for now that the quantitative paradigm has more sense and purpose than qualitative approaches (Mahoney & Goertz, 2006).


Adcock, R. & Collier, D. (2001). Measurement validity: A shared standard for qualitative and

quantitative research. American Political Science Review 95; 3: 529-546.

Mahoney, J. & Goertz, G.(2006). A tale of two cultures: Contrasting quantitative and

qualitative research. Political Analysis 14: 227-249.

Salomon, G. (1991). Transcending the qualitative-quantitative debate: The analytic and systemic

approaches to educational research. Educational Researcher, 20, 10-18.

Tashakkori, A. & Teddlie, C. (2003). Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social & Behavioral

Research. Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage Publications.

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