Does this count as a quantitative research?: quantifying the strength of a word association based on the average time each subject in an experiment gives a word associated to a stimulus word --the quicker the larger the strength would be.

I know that this involves quantifying but I thought more rigid methodology is going to be took when it comes to a quantitative research, which involves physical rulers and scales for example? --Is there a term to make a distinction between rigid one like using scales and less rigid one like my example? People probably can't come up with a better way than using scales to study weight of different substances, while people could come up with better methodology to quantify the strength of a word association.

Also if my example counts as a quantitative research, it seems to me that anything can be quantified. But I heard that some people say things like emotions and preferences can't be quantified. This is part of the reason why I'm not sure if my example falls into quantitative research.

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    What's the difference between a ruler and the stopwatch you use to measure response times? There are interesting questions about quantification and psychology, but the example you give is peculiar.
    – Ian_Fin
    Dec 7, 2016 at 10:17

1 Answer 1


You answered your own question. You plan to "quantify the strength of word association." In this instance, yes, your work would be considered quantitative research.

[Wikipedia] defines quantitative research as "the systematic empirical investigation of observable phenomena via statistical, mathematical or computational techniques" 1. The example you cite does exactly that.

Yes, everything is quantifiable some way. The greater question is whether or not that quantification has meaning. Yes, you can quantify emotions (countries are compared on happiness scales all the time). How that concept was measured and what is done about it is much more important.

As evidenced by the comment left "the example you give is peculiar," there is a level of debate that scholars could have about the validity and credibility of your methodology. Whether or not your methods were quantitative is not at question (they were).

I then add one more question to your question: Does it matter? I would much rather argue the value of your research with you than whether it would be considered qualitative or quantitative in nature.

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