Abstract

Qualitative methods are becoming increasingly popular in psychology. Although the distinction between qualitative and quantitative often is stated in terms of methods, the real distinction is between worldviews: that favored by most qualitative methodologists, which emphasizes subjective experience and multiple realities, and that commonly accepted in science. The worldview accepted by most adherents of qualitative inquiry suggests the exclusive use of methods that include verbal reports of lived experience. Qualitative methods serve an important function in psychology, but their use as recommended by their adherents is limited in 2 respects: The adherents use a narrow and unconventional approach to qualitative methods that differs from that normally understood, and they favor use of a restricted range of qualitative methods over other qualitative methods and quantitative methods. If qualitative inquiry is to make a greater contribution to psychology, researchers in that tradition must acquire a better understanding of contemporary science, correct their misunderstandings of the rationale for quantitative methods, and address the apparent limitations of their methods emphasizing reported experience.

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