Qualitative or Quantitative?A closer Look at both their Contributions to the Mass Communication Field

Kaitlin Sweyer
3 min readJul 18, 2022

When it comes to research in the mass communication field, there are two kinds that researchers tend to focus on: quantitative and qualitative. Qualitative research involves collecting and analyzing non-numerical data (e.g., text, video, or audio) to understand concepts, opinions, or experiences. Quantitative research is the process of collecting and analyzing numerical data. It can be used to find patterns and averages, make predictions, test causal relationships, and generalize results to wider populations. While these are different styles of research, both styles can be useful to the mass communication field!

Below, I will take a look at the use of both qualitative and quantitative research in the mass communication field, and more focused on the role of social media in people’s daily lives.

Qualitative Study:

The first study I’ll take a look at is A Qualitative Study on the Reasons for Social Media Addiction by Mehmet Emin Aksoy in 2018. This study asked 25 participants to take a questionnaire which determined that they saw themselves as addicted individuals in using social media.

After the questionnaire was filled out, the participants were asked the following questions:

  1. Sort your social media usage by importance?
  2. What was the purpose of using social media when you started using the first social media?
  3. Is there a difference in your current social media use needs compared to when you first started using it?
  4. Is social media indispensable for you? If yes, why?

After these forms were filled out, the researcher broke down telling statements from the participants who filled out the form. He looked for similarities and differences and found the reasons why people were addicted to social media and as well found they were consistent with other studies done. This study was easy to read and follow. It made sense to the common reader.

Quantitative Study:

The next study I took a look at is called #Alonetogether: An Exploratory Study of Social Media Use at the Beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The purpose of this study was to explore adults’ lived experiences with social media during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

When it came to the method that the researchers shared:

“After reviewing current literature on public health crises and social media, four open-ended items were developed and piloted with 20 adults: “Have you used social media the same or differently during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic? Please explain”;“What, if any, have been the benefits of using social media duringthe Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic? Please explain”;“What, if any, have been the challenges of using social media during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic? Please explain”;and “How do you think social media has influenced peoples’ experience with theCoronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic?”Participants were also to report which social media platforms they used and to consider how much daily time they spent with social media during the last week.”

The researchers eventually coded the data, and shared the following results:

“Participants reported they used YouTube (85.59%), Facebook (94.13%), Instagram (70.94%), Snapchat (41.10%), Pinterest (54.19%), and Twitter (40.14%). Participants also reported spending 4 or less hours (28.90%), 4.5 to 8 hours (22.52%), 8.5–12.5 hours (24.65%), or over 12.5 hours (23.94%) with social media daily within the last week. Four themes regarding adults’ experiences with social media during the pandemic emerged through qualitative analysis. During the COVID-19 pandemic, participants experienced social media as (a) providing connection in a safe way, (b) a medium that amplified emotional intensity, a key source for COVID-19 updates, and (d) as a needed time filler.”

When looking at this type of study, it is likely to become somewhat intimidated by all the numbers that are presented. That being said, by having numbers to back up these conclusions, it can be easier to see the impact of the results.