The answer to this question, qualitative vs. quantitative, is the subject of a perennial debate in the field of social sciences. It is imperative to realize that there are salient differences between qualitative and quantitative research methods, which does not exclude the possibility of employing a mixed methodology. Social science researchers must develop skills in both methods to have a more well-rounded interpretation of data that is anchored on an intelligently designed hypothesis.
Quantitative methods involve gathering numerical data and statistical analysis to objectively establish trends. Qualitative methods entail deeper, more subjective, and more researcher-involved ways to ground data through the process of induction. In the study of Voojis & Van der Voort (1993), three criteria for testing the effectiveness of a critical viewing curriculum on the attitude of children towards TV violence in a crime series. These include: “a higher readiness to see violence, less approval of violence, and a lowered perceived reality of television.
The answer to the question above is in the negative. Had Voojis & Van der Voort chosen the qualitative path, their finding that there was little difference in the perceived reality and attitude in the violence of the good guys would be elucidated more completely. There would be no need for an analysis of variance between the correlating demographic and biographical factors. The change in the 2 year duration after the curriculum would be measured best through qualitative methods to check why there was no significant effect afterwards.
While the quantitative study was excellent in pinpointing “the extent to which the curriculum bridged the gap between children’s judgments of violent programs and those of adults,” the “why” of such a gap was not answered. Thus, there should be a combination of both qualitative (in depth interviews, participant observation of the children viewing TV) and quantitative methods (pretest/posttest/retest control design) for greater reliability.