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Forensic Psychology: Quantitative vs Qualitative

In forensic psychology, both quantitative and qualitative research designs can be used when the available data is presented in the qualitative form, in words or categories. Depending on the purpose of the research, the data can be coded to determine themes, as it is in the qualitative research, or it can be transformed into numbers with the help of scales or other tools for quantitative research (Gravetter & Forzano, 2011, p. 25; Stangor, 2014, p. 16). To compare the quantitative and qualitative research designs, it is necessary to identify similarities and differences in the methods and data analysis used in two different articles.

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In their research, Cole and Sprang aimed to study differences in professionals’ awareness of sex trafficking and their experiences in the work with victims of sex trafficking in different types of communities. The study was conducted with the help of the telephone survey, during which researchers interviewed professionals (Cole & Sprang, 2015, p. 115). The collected qualitative data was classified and then transformed in numerical form to conduct the statistical analysis and compare the participants’ responses to determine possible differences. After conducting the bivariate tests of association, Chi-square tests, and the one-way ANOVA, the authors analyzed the data and concluded about differences in the awareness and experience of professionals from metropolitan, micropolitan, and rural communities. Hypothesized similarities and differences were found and supported.

Peled and Parker conducted a qualitative naturalistic study to examine the mothering experiences in women who became the victims of sex trafficking. Eight women from the former Soviet Union who were sex trafficked to Israel were involved in a series of in-depth interviews with different types of questions. To analyze the participants’ responses, the researchers chose the standard qualitative data analysis procedure and coded the collected data to determine themes in narratives and identified such types of mothering as “the good mother”, “the sacrificing mother”, and “the mother who wants for herself” (Peled & Parker, 2013, p. 576). The findings helped conclude the role of the sex trafficking experience in motherhood.

Two studies can be discussed as similar in terms of data interest for the researchers and procedures used for collecting the qualitative data. Although studies are different concerning their type, the researchers focused on collecting qualitative data on the participants’ feelings and experiences. The data were gathered with the help of interviews, and then, the information was coded. However, Cole and Sprang were interested in the determination of the actual percentage of professionals having different experiences. Thus, the qualitative data was transformed into the numerical form, and the statistical analysis typical for quantitative researches was used to compare professionals’ experiences (Crighton & Towl, 2015, p. 41). In contrast, the qualitative data analysis was used by Peled and Parker who needed to identify the participants’ feelings with the focus on categories, instead of numbers.

The comparison of the quantitative and qualitative research designs used in psychology is important to conclude that the focus on the quantitative data and statistical analysis is necessary when the actual statistical data are expected to be found. This approach is effective to conduct surveys the data of which can be generalized for future researches and conclusions. On the contrary, the qualitative research design is effective to represent the actual data regarding feelings, experiences, and knowledge. Qualitative research is appropriate for using when the investigator is interested in the participants’ perceptions and actual words.

References

Cole, J., & Sprang, G. (2015). Sex trafficking of minors in metropolitan, micropolitan, and rural communities. Child Abuse & Neglect, 40(1), 113-123.

Crighton, D., & Towl, G. (2015). Forensic psychology. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

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Gravetter, F., & Forzano, L. (2011). Research methods for the behavioral sciences. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.

Peled, E., & Parker, A. (2013). The mothering experiences of sex-trafficked women: Between here and there. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 83(4), 576-587.

Stangor, C. (2014). Research methods for the behavioral sciences. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.

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