Can You Be Half-Pregnant?

A few thoughts on the conflict between quant and qual

Michael Mayernik
Strategic Marketing Corporation


The purpose of this paper is to explore some of the issues that surround the subject as to whether it is appropriate, under the right circumstances, for quantitative approaches to co-habitate with non-quant approaches in a qualitative interview. Is it necessary to remain 'pure', or can an interview be 'half-pregnant' by employing quant techniques to serve qual needs?

The answer to this question is dependent on an even larger issue: are qual and quant in conflict with each other, that is, are they two very different approaches that cannot be combined? The topic of incorporating quant measurements within a qual interview is emotionally charged for some practitioners, leading to vehement opposition to the idea. But these strong feelings also sometimes seem tinged concerns that go beyond theory. For instance, if combining quant and qual is allowed, then users will start to demand this approach as a cost-saving measure (based on the common sense notion why pay for two studies when only one study is needed).