Changing the terms of the debate: Quantitative methods in explicitly interpretive research

Michael A. Westerman, Stephen C. Yanchar

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


We introduce this special issue by arguing that quantitative and qualitative research methods do not line up neatly with the guiding philosophical commitments of the two sides of the schism in the field between the mainstream, natural science approach, and the minority, human science position. This leads to the motivating idea for the issue, the view that quantitative methods, when used appropriately, can contribute to interpretive inquiry in psychology. We discuss the issue—s two main objectives—(1) presenting lines of actual research that illustrate how quantitative approaches can be used in ways that are consistent with a human science approach to the field, and (2) providing critical examination of the motivating idea—and introduce the articles in the issue that address each of these objectives. In the final section of this introductory article, we offer our thoughts about what the full set of papers accomplishes and suggest that the issue—s many-sided exploration goes some distance toward changing the terms of the quantitative—qualitative debate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-154
Number of pages16
JournalTheory & Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • explicitly interpretive quantitative research
  • interpretation
  • qualitative research
  • quantitative methods
  • science wars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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