Some Similarities and Differences among Phenomenological and Other Methods of Psychological Qualitative Research

By Osborne, John W. | Canadian Psychology, April 1994 | Go to article overview

Some Similarities and Differences among Phenomenological and Other Methods of Psychological Qualitative Research


Osborne, John W., Canadian Psychology


Abstract This paper compares the research method of phenomenological psychology to other qualitative research methods such as ethnography, participant observation, grounded theory, dramaturgical interviewing and content analysis. An attempt is made to identify similarities and differences. As a prelude, the major metatheories with which they are associated (phenomenology and symbolic interactionism) and the related differences between natural science and human science are discussed.

Interest in qualitative research methodology appears to have gathered momentum over the last decade (e.g., Rist, 1980). One of the recurrent themes in the discussion of qualitative methods has been the question of whether quantitative and qualitative methods are compatible. Opinion has been divided. Gibbs (1979) made a plea for complementarity of subjectivist and objectivist methods in psychology. Mahrer (1988) has advocated discovery oriented research in the field of psychotherapy, while Sperry (1988) has suggested an integration of positivistic and phenomenological thought to form a more naturalistic approach to the study of brain and consciousness.

The split between those who support and those who do not support complementarity of quantitative and qualitative methodology has also occurred in the field of educational research. For example, Howe (1985, 1988) and Firestone (1987) have argued for compatibility, while Smith (1983) and Smith and Heshusius (1986) have argued for incompatibility.

The early eighties marked the growth of an interest in qualitative methodology which has paralleled the growing disenchantment with traditional logical - empirical research methods. The hegemony of natural science type research methods has been increasingly challenged by descriptive and hermeneutically oriented methods (e.g., Giorgi, 1986; Packer, 1985; Palmer, 1969; Polkinghorne, 1983; Rommetveit, 1987). Contextualism (Rosnow & Georgoudi, 1986), social constructionism (Gergen, 1985) and deconstructionism (Derrida, 1977) have also challenged the objectivity of traditional natural science methodology by emphasizing the socially derived foundationalisms upon which methods are based.

There seems little doubt that qualitative methodology has come out of the closet in the field of the human sciences. Although quantitative methodological hegemony continues, the degree of coexistence and complementaritybetween quantitative and qualitative research methods seems to be increasing. Nonetheless, there are those who, while seeing symptoms of the inadequacy of standard quantitative methodological practice, see possible cures and solutions in the same metatheoretical terms (e.g., Aiken, West, Sechrest & Reno, 1990). Sarbin (1976) has noted the difficulty that psychologists trained in logical - empirical traditions have in breaking their reliance on habitual methods.

The Transition from Quantitative to Qualitative Methodology

Those researchers who are willing to explore qualitative methods face several difficulties. Usually they have been trained in the quantitative tradition and find the transition to qualitative research methods requires a major shift in world - view. The metatheories underlying such methods often differ from the logical - empirical base of natural science (Jacob, 1987). As will be seen later, some aspects of the qualitative methods associated with symbolic interactionism follow normative natural science practice (e.g., the Iowa school of ethnography) while other qualitative methods use a mixture of natural and human science approaches to research (e.g., the Chicago School of ethnography). Qualitative research methods such as phenomenology and the phenomenological aspects of ethnography, participant observation and grounded theory are based on metatheories that are associated with a human science approach to psychology (see Giorgi, 1970). The emphasis is upon discovery, description and meaning rather than the traditional natural science criteria of prediction, control and measurement. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Some Similarities and Differences among Phenomenological and Other Methods of Psychological Qualitative Research
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.