Qualitative Definition and Meaning

The Latin. This is the language in which we can find the etymological origin of the qualitative term that now concerns us. And it is that it derives from the Latin word “qualitativus”, which can be translated as “related to quality” and that is made up of two different parts:

  • The noun “qualitas”, which is synonymous with “quality”.
  • The suffix “-tive”, which is used to indicate a passive or active relationship.

Qualitative is an adjective that is used to name that which is linked to quality (the way of being or the properties of something).

  • Abbreviationfinder: Find definitions of English word – Investment. Commonly used abbreviations related to word are also included.

A qualitative analysis focuses on qualities and characteristics over numbers.

Qualitative analysis

A qualitative analysis, therefore, is aimed at revealing what the characteristics of something are. In this way, the qualitative focuses on quality, unlike the quantitative that is focused on quantities.

Let’s look at an example to better understand the concept. A soccer coach asks his assistant to prepare reports on his team’s recent games. The technical assistant, in this way, develops two studies: one quantitative (where he details that the team scored seven goals, won two games, lost three and used eighteen players) and another qualitative (which specifies that the team had a poor performance and that underperformed as the objectives agreed before the start of the tournament were not met).

The qualitative is oriented to quality and not to quantity.

Assessment of qualities

The qualitative can also be an assessment of qualities over numbers or figures. A craftsman who makes bracelets decides to privilege the qualitative and create only three bracelets a day, taking care of the details and the finish of the product, while another may give preponderance to the quantitative and produce eight bracelets a day, but of lower quality.

In general, in an economic or commercial field, the higher the quality, the higher the value (that is, what has quality is sold at a higher price). Continuing with this example, the craftsman who makes three bracelets may sell each piece for 20 pesos, while the one who produces eight must offer them, due to their characteristics, at no more than 6 pesos each.

Qualitative research

It is important to establish the existence of what has been called qualitative research, which is one that aims to achieve specific results through the use of methods or tools such as surveys, discussion groups, open interviews or experiments.

Within the field of social sciences is where the use of the aforementioned methodology is most frequently resorted to, which can be of various types:

  • Investigation action. Through it, what is intended is to obtain a series of data that allow improving the situations of certain groups, and for this what it does is investigate their participation.
  • Ethnography. Participant observation becomes the fundamental basis for the development of this type of research, which is based on the study of the different types of life that human beings can have.
  • Projective techniques. It is based on the fact that some individuals, when proceeding to interpret the behavior of others, what they do is indirectly account for their beliefs, ideas, thoughts, feelings or motivations. This study is carried out through resources such as focus groups or the association.


About the author