Which Type of Research Method Attempts to Answer the Question \Why Are They Doing That?\

Which Type of Research Method Attempts to Answer the Question “Why Are They Doing That?”


Research methods are crucial for understanding and interpreting various phenomena. They enable researchers to gather data, analyze it, and draw meaningful conclusions. Different research methods are employed depending on the nature of the study and the questions being asked. In this article, we will explore a specific research method that attempts to answer the question, “Why are they doing that?” We will discuss the method, its applications, and its limitations. Additionally, we will include a frequently asked questions (FAQs) section at the end to address common queries related to this topic.

Understanding the Research Method:

The research method that attempts to answer the question “Why are they doing that?” is known as qualitative research. Unlike quantitative research that focuses on numerical data and statistical analysis, qualitative research aims to delve deeper into the subjective experiences, motivations, and behaviors of individuals or groups. It seeks to understand the “why” behind certain actions, beliefs, or choices. It is an exploratory and descriptive approach that emphasizes context and meaning rather than generalizability.

Applications of Qualitative Research:

Qualitative research is widely used across various disciplines, including social sciences, education, psychology, anthropology, and market research. Its primary goal is to gain an in-depth understanding of human behavior, attitudes, and beliefs. Here are some common applications of qualitative research:

1. Exploring Motivations: Qualitative research allows researchers to investigate the underlying motivations behind specific behaviors or actions. For example, a study might seek to understand why people engage in risky behaviors such as smoking or drug abuse.

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2. Studying Cultural Practices: Qualitative research is invaluable in understanding cultural practices, norms, and values. Researchers can immerse themselves in a particular culture to gain insights into the “why” behind certain rituals, traditions, or social customs.

3. Uncovering Consumer Behavior: Market researchers often employ qualitative research methods to understand consumer preferences, decision-making processes, and attitudes towards products or services. This knowledge helps companies tailor their offerings to meet consumer needs effectively.

4. Exploring Social Phenomena: Qualitative research is well-suited to examine complex social phenomena such as gender roles, identity formation, or social inequality. Researchers can conduct in-depth interviews, observations, or focus group discussions to gain a comprehensive understanding of these issues.

Limitations of Qualitative Research:

While qualitative research offers numerous advantages, it is not without limitations. Some of the key limitations include:

1. Limited Generalizability: The small sample sizes and specific contexts used in qualitative research limit its ability to generalize findings to larger populations. The focus is on depth rather than breadth.

2. Subjectivity: Qualitative research is highly subjective due to its reliance on interpretations and personal biases of both researchers and participants. This subjectivity can impact the validity and reliability of the findings.

3. Time and Resource Intensive: Qualitative research often requires significant time and resources, particularly when conducting interviews, transcribing data, and analyzing qualitative data. Researchers need to invest substantial efforts in data collection and analysis.

4. Potential for Bias: As researchers are deeply involved in the data collection process, there is a risk of bias influencing the interpretation of findings. Researchers must be mindful of their own biases and take steps to minimize their impact.

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

Q: Can qualitative research be used in conjunction with quantitative research?

A: Yes, researchers often use both qualitative and quantitative research methods in combination. This approach, known as mixed methods research, allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the research question by integrating numerical data with qualitative insights.

Q: How are qualitative research findings analyzed?

A: Qualitative data analysis involves several steps, including coding, categorizing, and identifying themes or patterns. Researchers often use qualitative data analysis software to aid in the process of organizing and analyzing the data.

Q: Can qualitative research be used to study sensitive topics?

A: Yes, qualitative research is particularly well-suited for studying sensitive topics as it allows participants to share their experiences in a safe and confidential environment. Researchers must ensure ethical considerations are addressed throughout the research process.

Q: What are the advantages of qualitative research over quantitative research?

A: Qualitative research provides rich, in-depth insights into the subjective experiences and motivations of individuals. It allows for flexibility in data collection and analysis, enabling researchers to adapt their approach during the study. Additionally, qualitative research can generate new hypotheses and theories, contributing to the development of knowledge in a particular field.


Qualitative research is a valuable research method that attempts to answer the question “Why are they doing that?” It provides a deep understanding of human behavior, motivations, and attitudes. By employing qualitative research methods, researchers gain insights into complex social phenomena, cultural practices, and consumer behavior. While qualitative research has limitations, its strengths lie in its ability to explore the intricate details and contexts that quantitative research may overlook. As with any research method, researchers must approach qualitative research with rigor, mindfulness of bias, and ethical considerations to ensure valid and reliable findings.

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