Qualitative and quantitative observations example

Difference between Qualitative and Quantitative Observations with Examples

In this article, we will briefly go through qualitative vs. quantitative observations, including their meanings, examples, and use in science. These two types are the categories of the act of observing.
Two types of observations
Qualitative: deals with characteristics.
Quantitative: deals with numbers.
Observation is the basic fundamental of a case study or a research. There are two kinds of observations - qualitative and quantitative. People observe things based on their surroundings, their experiences in life, and their developed and evolved cognitive processing of information. Based on this observation they then think, analyze and evaluate their proceedings. Observing is gathering information about things way before a plan is made to implement it. Gathering information about the environment, animals, plants, people and things and how they are interconnected with each other forms the basis of any new discovery and research.

Through observation one can know about the feelings and emotions, the way of interaction and communication - verbal and nonverbal, which helps the researchers in many ways to find out the behavior and feel that envelopes their research. Not all knowledge can be gained by reading theories and implementing them, but also a lot is learned just by the act of observing.

Now, let's take a look at the definitions and examples of the two types of observations.

Qualitative Observation

As the name suggests, qualitative meaning - that pertaining to quality, is the kind of observation where a person observes a certain thing based on its physical qualities or properties. This observation uses all five senses - sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. This observation is subjective and the characteristics of the object are taken into account.

Qualitative observation in science:

Qualitative observation is done on a personal level, so that the researcher can get complete information on intimate details of the person. Also, it is conducted on a few participants. As it is done on a personal level, the participants find it easy to confide in them, and then give them all the detailed description of events that the researchers are studying on. These observations are carried out to understand the human nature useful for psychologists, social scientists and sociologists.


Quantitative Observation

As the name suggests, quantitative meaning - that pertaining to quantity, is the kind of observation where a person observes a certain thing based on numbers and measurements. This observation deals with numbers. It is used on objects that can be precisely measured. It is objective and is generally preferred in hard science. It can also be said that it's a measurement of the quantity of that product.

Quantitative observation in science:

Quantitative observation is done when there is a need to find out accurate measurements including sizes, temperatures, colors, volume, shapes, numbers, etc. Generally this observation method is most commonly used in hard science as they say, other than the social sciences which require quality of human nature.


Examples for Differentiation
QualitativeQuantitative
That is a regular shape, purple colored plastic bottle with warm water in it.That is one bottle, 6 inches in length, half filled with water upto 30° warm.
There is a tray of red, blue and orange coffee mugs and they are heavy to carry.There is a tray of 5 mugs, and each weigh around 10 ounces, making the weight of the whole tray more than 50 ounces.
The water is salty.The water is 80% salty.

As we see in the above examples, quantitative observation gave measurements to the characteristics defined by qualitative observation. To gain complete knowledge of a particular thing, both qualitative and quantitative observations are required.