Qualitative Methods Examples

Qualitative methods are used to understand, beyond the quantitative approach, the behaviors and attitudes of people by tapping into interviews, focus groups, and qualitative observation.

One-on-one interviews

Detailed, one-on-one interviews are one of the most popular qualitative data collection approaches.

It involves a natural and free-flowing conversation where the interviewer asks open-ended questions that encourage in-depth answers.

The success of this method ultimately rests on the quality of primary (and follow-up) questions. Indeed, the researcher must ask the sorts of questions that will yield the most meaningful data.

Most interviews are performed either on the phone or face-to-face, with the latter enabling the business to read the body language of respondents as they react to certain questions.

Focus groups

Focus groups are another popular source of qualitative data.

They tend to be most effective in eliciting data on cultural norms or clarifying issues of concern within those cultures.

They are also useful for complex processes and in instances where market research on new products or ideas is required.

The ideal size of a focus group is around 5-8 participants, but the size of the group can be increased to 10 if individuals are less experienced with the topic at hand.

Ethnographic research

Otherwise known as participant observation, ethnographic research involves direct observation of people in their natural environment.

This environment may be a home, city, remote location, or even another organization.

In essence, ethnographic research is a form of research design that seeks to understand the motivations, challenges, cultures, and settings that individuals encounter whilst living their lives.

Aside from direct observation, interviewers may also take notes from diary studies, photography, artifact analysis, and video recordings. Studies themselves can last anywhere from a couple of hours to several years.

Qualitative observation

Qualitative observation is a method where the researcher collects information based on the five senses of hearing, taste, touch, smell, and sight.

This is a form of direct observation where both the study organizer and participants are immersed in the research.

Questions are established as the study evolves which allows room for new tests or hypotheses to emerge.

This is a highly subjective form of qualitative data collection.

Bias can be introduced to the study since each individual lives a unique experience and interprets interactions based on their particular skillset and experiences.

Grounded theory model

Grounded theory model is a method with a core focus on building theories from naturally occurring field data.

In other words, it strives to develop new ways of understanding the patterns of interaction among study participants in real-life contexts.

Corporations use the grounded theory model whilst conducting surveys to determine why consumers use their products or services.

Insights from the model enable the company to better manage customer loyalty and satisfaction.

The model is also used to examine key issues in a B2B context such as complex decision-making processes and the interactions (or relationships) that exist in social and professional networks.

Read Next: Characteristics of Quantitative Research

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