Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches to Generalization and Replication : A Representationalist View

Faculty/Professorship: Foundations in Education  
Author(s): Borgstede, Matthias  ; Scholz, Marcel  
Publisher Information: Bamberg : Otto-Friedrich-Universität
Year of publication: 2021
Pages: 1-9
Source/Other editions: Frontiers in psychology, 12 (2021) 605191, S. 1-9.
is version of: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.605191
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.20378/irb-49473
Licence: Creative Commons - CC BY - Attribution 4.0 International 
URN: urn:nbn:de:bvb:473-irb-494737
In this paper, we provide a re-interpretation of qualitative and quantitative modeling from a representationalist perspective. In this view, both approaches attempt to construct abstract representations of empirical relational structures. Whereas quantitative research uses variable-based models that abstract from individual cases, qualitative research favors case-based models that abstract from individual characteristics. Variable-based models are usually stated in the form of quantified sentences (scientific laws). This syntactic structure implies that sentences about individual cases are derived using deductive reasoning. In contrast, case-based models are usually stated using context-dependent existential sentences (qualitative statements). This syntactic structure implies that sentences about other cases are justifiable by inductive reasoning. We apply this representationalist perspective to the problems of generalization and replication. Using the analytical framework of modal logic, we argue that the modes of reasoning are often not only applied to the context that has been studied empirically, but also on a between-contexts level. Consequently, quantitative researchers mostly adhere to a top-down strategy of generalization, whereas qualitative researchers usually follow a bottom-up strategy of generalization. Depending on which strategy is employed, the role of replication attempts is very different. In deductive reasoning, replication attempts serve as empirical tests of the underlying theory. Therefore, failed replications imply a faulty theory. From an inductive perspective, however, replication attempts serve to explore the scope of the theory. Consequently, failed replications do not question the theory per se, but help to shape its boundary conditions. We conclude that quantitative research may benefit from a bottom-up generalization strategy as it is employed in most qualitative research programs. Inductive reasoning forces us to think about the boundary conditions of our theories and provides a framework for generalization beyond statistical testing. In this perspective, failed replications are just as informative as successful replications, because they help to explore the scope of our theories.
GND Keywords: Forschung ; Qualitative Methode ; Quantitative Methode ; Modallogik ; Replikation ; Generalisierung
Keywords: qualitative research, representational measurement, research methodology, modal logic, generalizability, replication crisis
DDC Classification: 150 Psychology  
RVK Classification: CM 3600   
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Open Access Journal: Ja
Type: Article
URI: https://fis.uni-bamberg.de/handle/uniba/49473
Release Date: 12. February 2021

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