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Introduction This essay describes the main aspects of relativist qualitative research in social psychology Generalised comparisons will be considered between the methodology of relativist qualitative and experimental research reflecting their different epistemologys what can be known about human behaviour via issues of validity reliability and generalisability In accordance with a logical positivist epistemology experimental researchers argue that social behaviour is an objective independent reality relying on theories which describe that reality Megee 2001 Theories depend on constructs and variables and the relationship between these constructsvariables Theories are formulated either deductively based on logic or inductively based on observation or through a combination of these two approaches Megee 2001 Methods are quantitative and attempt to understand some reality by measuring hypothesized relationships between constructs via isolation of these entities into independent and dependent variables Smith 1996 Although qualitative research is an umbrella term for both relativist and realist study this essay will focus on the former Relativist qualitative researchers disregard positivist logic Hammersley 1996 They instead affirm an idealist epistemology endorsing relativism and social constructivism Megee 2001 Research is based on description rather than prediction as meaning of a phenomenon is sought instead of cause Interpretations are typically derived through discourse analysis Megee 2001 Realist qualitative researcher epistemology emanates from quantitative realist and essentialist philosophy where real underlying entities can be denoted from data Megee 2001 However repute inferences should be drawn from multiple methods of data collection Robson 1993 as cited in Megee 2001 proposed criteria for assessing realist qualitative research based around credibility verified through the utilization of multiple evidence sources and the provision of comprehensive detail concerning the data collection conditions Dependability of data collection ensures that findings would be repeated in similar settings Finally transferability considers the relevance of results from one situation to another determined on an individual case basis Mcgee 2001 The main features of Qualitative research In social science
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