Martens has suggested a shift in paradigm in sport psychology
research from quantitative to qualitative. The quantitative paradigm
attempts to find common properties through the discovery of cause-effect
relationships or correlations between independent and dependent
variables. It is traditionally found in laboratory experiment
Orthodox science paradigm holds the following assumptions:
high internal validity and objectivity can be achieved with the
quantitative paradigm. Cause and effect relationships may be
identified, if strict qualitative scientific methods are
upheld, although biases affect most experiments and their interpretation,
despite the ideology of the scientific method (Martens 1987).
The quantitative method, as applied to psychological phenomenon,
can take many decades to derive practical information. External
validity generally suffers when strict scientific guidelines
are implemented in the design of the study. In many cases, strict
scientific methodology is not practical. In which case, external
validity may be improved, but again, cause and effect certainty
will be sacrificed. The quantitative method is probably too limited
to the study of human behavior, since it does not allow us to
understand the person as a whole. Psychology is not tangible
like physiological phenomenon. Finally, statistical insignificance
can camouflage practical significance (Martens 1987).
The qualitative paradigm has been described as objective observation.
Within this paradigm, scientists work with clues that can mean
a variety of things to a scientist depending greatly on their
experiences (Martens 1987).
The qualitative, or heuristic paradigm holds the following
assumptions (Martens 1987):
The qualitative paradigm can allow a scientist greater freedom
exercise intuition or rely on tacit knowledge in decision making
and theory development. Qualitative research has typically
higher external validity, generalizations can be made about more
readily. The qualitative paradigm does not rely on reductionism
allowing us to better understand the person. In addition, scientists
can generally make sense of greater information than that is
practical with qualitative methodology.
The qualitative methodology typically has lower internal
validity, meaning that any number of extraneous variables may
have affected experiment. Results may be altered simply because
subject may have behaved or responded differently in different
situations. The qualitative methodology may not be respected
by some academias and may impair publishability in some journals.