Social science research also uses either a quantitative or qualitative methodological approach in gathering and analyzing data. The qualitative method analyzes qualitative data such as interviews, narratives, and literary texts. “The emphasis in qualitative analysis is ‘sense-making’ or understanding a phenomenon, rather than predicting or explaining. (Bhattacherjee, 2012, p.113).” This method of analysis relies heavily on the knowledge of the researcher of the social context of the gathered data. Quantitative method, on the other hand, analyzes quantifiable or numeric data and subjects them to statistical analyses. While statistics or numerical data does not provide an absolute measurement of human ideals like happiness or quality education, it does provide measurement of its indicators like the size of the population of the country, the presence or absence of corruption, or the levels of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
One example of the use of quantitative method is the United Nation’s World Happiness Report of 2016. The survey was conducted to measure the happiness index. It had a sample size of 1,000 to 3,000 people from each participating country around the world and had a confidence interval of 95%. The six factors used to measure the level of happiness are the levels of GDP, life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom, and corruption. The top five countries that scored the highest happiness index are Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Finland. The study revealed that people are happier in countries where there is less inequality of happiness. It also found that social support or the presence of care and assistance during difficult times raises the level of happiness of the people. This is the reason why countries with a very strong social welfare program ranked the highest in the survey. The survey also points the need to promote prosperity, justice, access to health programs, and not just economic growth in order to have a ‘happy’ society.
In some cases, a research methodology may employ a combination of both quantitative and qualitative information and analysis. John Creswell (2013, p. 4) describes the mixed method as a research approach that “integrates both quantitative and qualitative data in a single study or in a sustained long-term program of inquiry to address [the] research questions.” The data collection includes both numeric and text information like interviews.