Quantitative questions give you the numbers to prove the general point of your research. Qualitative questions, meanwhile, give you the details and depth to understand the full implications.

Let's take a deep dive into the characteristics of each type of research.

The difference between Quantitative and Qualitative research

Quantitative research

Quantitative research deals with numbers. Quantify, as we know, means to express or measure the quantity of.

Therefore, this type of research is used to "quantify" a problem by collecting numerical data or data that can be transformed into usable statistics to prove a point. It is mostly used to calculate an attitude, opinion, or other defined variable from a population.

Here are some questions would result in quantitative data:

  • How many times do you purchase tea from a shop?

  • If applicable, which café or coffee shop do you go to most often?

In such cases, the surveyor is looking for answers to questions like "What?" and "How many?", or in other words a numeric quantity.

The best question types for collecting quantitative data include multiple choice questions (radio button and checkbox), drop-down, Likert scale, slider scale, star ranking, and an NPS.


Qualitative research mostly deals with amounts or numbers.

Here's another example to clear the cloud:

Let's assume you want to ascertain which parts people liked most about a stage play

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research

Using a rating scale question is a good idea to get people's opinions in such a case.

Through the star matrix question, you can even discover the degree up to which people loved, or hated specific parts of the play. Thus you are fetching quantitative data here in a more innovative way- that makes it easier for respondents to answer.

When do you use Quantitative or Qualitative questions?

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research

Now that you understand the difference between quantitative and qualitative questions, which method should you use in your survey research?

Unfortunately, there is no direct answer to that question! You need to employ a mix of both to reach the right conclusion.

For example:

Let us assume that you are conducting a survey to understand why some study places on a university campus are so popular. To identify which study places are actually crowded, you need to either ask the students where they are studying most of the time on campus or manually assess the places yourself over a period of time.

This data will help you pick out perhaps the top three locations out of all of the study areas. However, to get to the actual "Why?" part of the question, you need to go around asking students their own opinion. Only by doing this will you get an idea of why people prefer to study on the garden benches instead of in the library.

The key-balancing Qualitative and Quantitative research

Quantitative research sets the ball rolling as you identify new problems and opportunities. On the other hand, qualitative research gives you the human metrics—the why behind the measurement.

For example, say you have created a survey to collect feedback from the attendees of an organization-wide event. You need to fetch some important metrics to test the event's success: attendance rate, overall quality of speakers, value of information, and so on.

However there may also be some other questions you can also ask your attendees that can give you useful insights.

These may include:

  • What did you enjoy most about the event?

  • How can we improve your experience?

  • Is there any feedback that you would like to give?

Answers to these questions will help you gain an in-depth understanding of their experience so you can make changes while planning your next event.

Some survey templates—especially Zoho Survey's customer satisfaction surveys—include a good mixture of qualitative and quantitative questions.

For example:

Q) How long have you subscribed to our product?

Q) How likely are you to purchase any of our products again?

On top of the data collected in these two questions, one can add a follow-up question:

  • Do you have any other comments, questions, or concerns?

This can act as the extra-mile qualitative question in your survey.

So the conclusion is: A go-to method for a surveyor like you would be to employ quantitative questions to statistically look at what the whole picture is and use qualitative questions to add a human voice to the results.

You can get the best results from your survey by combining the two research methods—this approach gives you access to research insights that are extensive both in terms of numbers and depth of reasoning.

Now that you know the difference between these two research methods, you have a better idea of how to use them together. So go ahead and put them together in your next survey!


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