Examining arguments against quantitative research: "Case studies" illustrating the challenge of finding a sound philosophical basis for a human sciences approach to psychology

Michael A. Westerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article offers a close examination of critiques of quantitative research by Michell (2011), Marecek (2011), and Morawski (2011). One goal is to show that these three critics actually share with most mainstream quantitative researchers commitments to the Cartesian framework, even though this is not obvious because Cartesianism can appear in different guises. As a result of these commitments, the three theorists advance criticisms of mainstream quantitative research that fail to identify its key failings, put forward flawed views about how we should conduct research, and offer misguided criticisms of an approach I advocate called explicitly interpretive quantitative research. Another goal is to use the examination of the three critiques as a vehicle for clarifying the participatory perspective, a philosophical viewpoint that departs from the Cartesian framework. With regard to research methodology, the participatory perspective provides the basis for explicitly interpretive quantitative research, leads to ideas about changes we should make in how we conduct qualitative research, and treats quantitative and qualitative research as fundamentally similar because both should be pursued as interpretive modes of inquiry. I suggest that my analyses of the three critiques of quantitative research - or "case studies," as I call these analyses - also may prove useful to researchers and theorists who want to develop a human sciences approach to other issues besides research methodology by helping them (1) recognize when lines of thinking that seem to depart from the mainstream actually represent variants of Cartesianism, and (2) consider what the participatory perspective might have to offer if they were to use it as the philosophical basis for their efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-58
Number of pages17
JournalNew Ideas in Psychology
Volume32
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2014

Keywords

  • Cartesian framework
  • Explicitly interpretive quantitative research
  • Human sciences approach
  • Participatory perspective
  • Qualitative methods
  • Quantitative methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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