Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Qualitative Research in Psychology

American Psychological Association via edX


In our daily lives, many of us ask questions of ourselves and about others. Some of these questions, born of simple curiosity, resemble elements of qualitative research. For instance, what will I wear today—and what motives, both overt and hidden to the world, will guide those choices? Or, why does my neighbor seem particularly downtrodden today when he’s normally happy? Or, for what reasons is my favorite charitable organization having difficulty recruiting new members this year, especially when the factors surrounding recruitment haven’t changed? These, and other questions, may arise from our observations and our experiences of the world in which we live. As you will learn in this course, these questions become qualitative research projects when the right methods and analytical processes are learned and applied.

Through qualitative research, we are able to explore—through methods like interviews and observations—various facets of individuals’ lived experiences. Qualitative research in psychology arises from historical and cross-disciplinary foundations, as well as from dynamic philosophical underpinnings. We will focus on the past and present of qualitative inquiry, with grounding in contemporary examples across a variety of psychology fields. Through tools, illustrations, and self-assessments, you will learn some of the basics of qualitative research while examining your own research predilections and experiences. We hope you will emerge with an understanding of, and appreciation for, how qualitative inquiry adds depth, character, and nuance to our understanding of humans’ individual and collective experiences.

Qualitative research usually involves naturalistic inquiry. This means that we explore human experiences of the real world as they’re living it, or as it was lived. Qualitative inquiry invites inquiry into everyday living experiences. Through an array of qualitative traditions and their associated methods, we can investigate beliefs, biases, behaviors, routines, roles, cultures, and other facets of the human experience. Here, you will learn about the foundations of qualitative inquiry—and how it differs from quantitative research, yet in complementary ways. Relatedly, you will gain practice in common qualitative traditions—like phenomenology and ethnography—and some of the methods they use, such as interviewing. We hope you will gain the competence, confidence, and “know-how” to begin planning your own qualitative study of a topic in psychology.


What is Qualitative Research?

Introduction to Qualitative Research

Qualitative Studies in Psychology

Standards of Rigor in Qualitative Research

Interviewing Methods


Narrative Inquiry

Constructivist Grounded Theory

Conducting Interviews

Observational Methods



Case Studies

Qualitative Data Analysis

Read-Throughs and Coding

Interpreting and Representing

Taught by

Mike Stadler


4.6 rating at edX based on 5 ratings

Start your review of Qualitative Research in Psychology

Never Stop Learning.

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.

Someone learning on their laptop while sitting on the floor.