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Quantitative Research vs. Qualitative Research: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 17, 2023
Quantitative research focuses on numerical data and statistics; qualitative research delves into experiences and interpretations.

Key Differences

Quantitative research involves collecting and analyzing numerical data to identify patterns and trends. Qualitative research, on the other hand, emphasizes understanding individuals' perceptions, experiences, and motivations.
In quantitative research, data is often gathered through structured methods like surveys and experiments, resulting in numerical results. Qualitative research employs semi-structured or unstructured techniques, like interviews or observations, leading to descriptive outcomes.
While quantitative research seeks to quantify a problem and understand its prevalence, qualitative research aims to explore the depth, richness, and complexity inherent in phenomena.
The tools and methods used in quantitative research, such as statistical analysis, ensure objectivity and generalizability. In contrast, qualitative research values subjectivity, seeking to provide detailed insights into a particular context or group.
To illustrate, a researcher might use quantitative research to find out how many people prefer online shopping over in-store shopping. Concurrently, qualitative research could be employed to understand the reasons behind their preferences, capturing the nuances of their experiences and choices.

Comparison Chart


Numerical and statistical.
Descriptive and interpretative.


To quantify and identify patterns.
To explore depth and complexity.

Data Collection Methods

Surveys, experiments, etc.
Interviews, observations, etc.


Numbers, graphs, and statistics.
Narratives, themes, and descriptions.


Breadth and generalizability.
Depth and context-specific insights.

Quantitative Research and Qualitative Research Definitions

Quantitative Research

A systematic study relying on statistical analysis.
Quantitative research was used to assess the drug's efficacy in a large sample.

Qualitative Research

Subjective research aiming for a rich understanding of a topic.
Qualitative research methods uncovered the motivations driving brand loyalty.

Quantitative Research

Data-driven research that deals with numbers and statistical testing.
The quantitative research revealed a correlation between exercise frequency and mental well-being.

Qualitative Research

An investigation focused on understanding experiences and perspectives.
The qualitative research provided deep insights into consumer behavior.

Quantitative Research

Objective research producing countable and generalizable results.
Quantitative research indicated a significant increase in sales post-advertisement.

Qualitative Research

A study that yields descriptive and non-numerical data.
Through qualitative research, the team captured the emotions behind user decisions.

Quantitative Research

An investigation that produces numerical data.
The quantitative research showed 60% of respondents prefer brand A.

Qualitative Research

Research prioritizing depth, context, and interpretation.
Qualitative research highlighted cultural nuances affecting the product's reception.

Quantitative Research

Research emphasizing measurement and quantification.
Through quantitative research, the team determined the average income of city residents.

Qualitative Research

Exploration that delves into nuances, complexities, and human experiences.
The qualitative research painted a vivid picture of the challenges faced by migrants.


Which is more objective: quantitative research or qualitative research?

Quantitative research is generally considered more objective due to its reliance on numerical data and statistical methods.

Are the results of quantitative research always numerical?

Yes, quantitative research aims to produce data that can be quantified and subjected to statistical analysis.

What is quantitative research?

Quantitative research involves collecting and analyzing numerical data to identify patterns, trends, or relationships.

Can qualitative research provide statistical evidence?

No, qualitative research provides descriptive insights rather than statistical data.

Is qualitative research less valuable because it's subjective?

No, both qualitative and quantitative research offer unique insights; qualitative research provides depth and context to topics.

What methods are typical for quantitative research?

Common methods include surveys, experiments, and structured observations.

Can a study combine both quantitative and qualitative research?

Yes, many studies use a mixed-methods approach to benefit from both research types.

Which research type is more likely to use open-ended questions?

Qualitative research often uses open-ended questions to capture detailed responses.

Why opt for qualitative research?

To gain a deeper understanding, explore complexities, and capture nuanced experiences.

In summary, how do quantitative research and qualitative research compare?

Quantitative research focuses on numbers, patterns, and generalizability, while qualitative research delves into depth, context, and individual experiences.

How does qualitative research differ from quantitative research?

While quantitative research focuses on numerical data and statistics, qualitative research emphasizes understanding individual experiences and interpretations.

How is data typically collected in qualitative research?

Methods like interviews, focus groups, and unstructured observations are common in qualitative research.

How are results from qualitative research typically shared?

As narratives, themes, or descriptive accounts.

Why might a researcher choose quantitative research?

To obtain generalizable, measurable, and statistically valid results.

Which research type typically involves larger sample sizes?

Quantitative research usually involves larger samples to ensure statistical validity.

Is quantitative research limited to specific fields?

No, quantitative research is used across various disciplines whenever data quantification is desired.

How flexible is qualitative research during the data collection phase?

Qualitative research is often more flexible, allowing researchers to adapt as they gather data.

How are findings typically presented in quantitative research?

Through charts, graphs, and statistical data.

Can the results of quantitative research influence qualitative research and vice versa?

Yes, findings from one type can inform or guide the approach of the other in a mixed-methods study.

Can the results of qualitative research be generalized?

Typically, qualitative research is context-specific and not aimed at generalization.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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