Quantitative and Qualitative Data

Some methods provide data which are quantitative and some methods data which are qualitative. Quantitative methods are those which focus on numbers and frequencies rather than on meaning and experience. Quantitative methods (e.g. experiments, questionnaires and psychometric tests) provide information which is easy to analyse statistically and fairly reliable. Quantitative methods are associated with the scientific and experimental approach and are criticised for not providing an in depth description. Qualitative methods are ways of collecting data which are concerned with describing meaning, rather than with drawing statistical inferences. What qualitative methods (e.g. case studies and interviews) lose on reliability they gain in terms of validity. They provide a more in depth and rich description. Quantitative methods have come under considerable criticism. In modern research, most psychologists tend to adopt a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches, which allow statistically reliable information obtained from numerical measurement to be backed up by and enriched by information about the research participants’ explanations. You will find that many of the core studies do collect both types of data.

Qualitative Data

Quantitative Data


  • Deals with descriptions.
  • Data can be observed but not measured.
  • Colors, textures, smells, tastes, appearance, beauty, etc.
  • Qualitative ? Quality

  • Deals with numbers.
  • Data which can be measured.
  • Length, height, area, volume, weight, speed, time, temperature, humidity, sound levels, cost, members, ages, etc.
  • Quantitative ? Quantity
Example 1:

Oil Painting

Qualitative data:

  • blue/green color, gold frame

  • smells old and musty

  • texture shows brush strokes of oil paint

  • peaceful scene of the country

  • masterful brush strokes

Example 1:

Oil Painting

Quantitative data:

  • picture is 10″ by 14″

  • with frame 14″ by 18″

  • weighs 8.5 pounds

  • surface area of painting is 140 sq. in.

  • cost $300

Example 2:


Qualitative data:

  • robust aroma

  • frothy appearance

  • strong taste

  • burgundy cup

Example 2:


Quantitative data:

  • 12 ounces of latte

  • serving temperature 150º F.

  • serving cup 7 inches in height

  • cost $4.95

Example 3:

Freshman Class

Qualitative data:

  • friendly demeanors

  • civic minded

  • environmentalists

  • positive school spirit

Example 3:

Freshman Class

Quantitative data:

  • 672 students

  • 394 girls, 278 boys

  • 68% on honor roll

  • 150 students accelerated in mathematics

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