Qualitative research in psychology: Attitudes of psychology students and academic staff
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This is an electronic version of an article published in Povee, K. and Roberts, L. 2014. Qualitative research in psychology: Attitudes of psychology students and academic staff. Australian Journal of Psychology. 66 (1): pp. 28-37.
Qualitative research is experiencing a resurgence within the field of psychology. This study aimed to explore the range of attitudes towards qualitative research in psychology held by students and academics, using the model of attitudes by Eagly and Chaiken as a framework. Twenty-one psychology students and academics were interviewed about their attitudes towards qualitative research. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. While qualitative research was described as inherent to the psychology profession and useful for generating rich data, some participants felt that this approach was not well respected or considered as legitimate as quantitative methods. Reflecting common misperceptions about qualitative research, participants also expressed concerns that qualitative research was too subjective and had limited generalisability. Furthermore, some participants felt that they lacked the skills and confidence necessary to conduct qualitative research. Large investments in time and resources were identified as barriers to undertaking qualitative research. Identifying attitudes towards qualitative research provides a basis for future work in dispelling myths, promoting attitudinal change and increasing both the use and teaching of qualitative approaches in psychology.
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