Misconceived relationships between
logical positivism and quantitative research

Chong Ho Yu, Ph.D., MCSE, CNE, CCNA
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of
the 2001 American Educational Research Association, Seattle, WA.
Printed in 2002 Research Methods Forum


Although quantitative research methodology is widely applied by educational and psychological researchers, there is a common misconception that quantitative research is based upon logical positivism. This article examines the relationship between quantitative research and eight major notions of logical positivism: (a) verification, (b) pro-observation, (c) anti-cause, (d) downplaying explanation, (e) anti-theoretical entities, (f) anti-metaphysics, (g) logical analysis and (h) frequentist probability. It is argued that the underlying philosophy of modern quantitative research in psychology is in sharp contrast to logical positivism. Associating an outdated philosophy with quantitative research may discourage social science  researchers from applying this research approach, and also may lead to misguided disputes between quantitative and qualitative researchers. Researchers and students should be encouraged to keep an open mind to different methodologies, while retaining skepticism to examine the philosophical assumptions of various research methodologies instead of unquestioningly accepting popular myths.

Please feel free to download the paper and send me comments.



Table of Contents

Main Table of Contents

Simplified Navigation

Search Engine


Press this icon to contact Dr. Yu via various channels