Chapter 3 Qualitative methods in psychology

Within psychology, there are broadly two ways in which qualitative methods are used, one fundamentally inductive, the other using a combination of inductive and deductive approaches. First, if (almost) no theory exists about a subject, qualitative data can be collected to contribute to the creation of a large evidence base in which patterns can be identified that can then give rise to theory. Second, if theory does exist, the constructs posited by those theories often have content that differs for different populations, contexts, and behaviors. Once a theoretical construct has been clearly defined, it is possible to derive guidelines for eliciting the construct’s content in a given population, context, or otherwise relevant circumstance.