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Knowledge Claims In The Human Sciences Psychology Essay

Knowledge Claims In The Human Sciences Psychology Essay

In everyday life, we face a lot of questions regarding our environment and our surroundings. From the natural phenomena to the behaviour of human being. We questioned things that we do not know and do not understand. In order for us to solve and answer the questions that are mingling in our mind, we need to do something. Something that can answer those questions. Experiments are being conducted in order to gain the answers from the question that are being asked. Data are being collected from the experiments. Data that are being collected can be divided into 2 groups which are qualitative data and quantitative data. What are quantitative data and qualitative data? Quantitative data are pieces of information that can be counted mathematically [1] . It is usually gathered by surveys from large numbers of respondents selected randomly [2] . Quantitative data deals with numbers and data which can be measured. Length, area, volume, weight, speed, time, temperature, sound levels, cost and members are the examples of data which can be measured. Qualitative data is obtained by gathering observations, interviews or focus groups and it may also be gathered from written documents and through case studies [3] . It emphasis less on counting numbers of people who think or behave in certain ways and more. Qualitative data deals with descriptions and the data can be observed but cannot be measured. Tastes, appearance, colours, textures, smells and beauty are the examples of data which can be observed but cannot be measured. Quantitative and quantitative data have their own strengths and limitations in supporting knowledge claims in the human sciences and history. Certain area of knowledge will require the extensive used of qualitative data whilst little use of quantitative data and vice versa. Thus, to what extend quantitative and qualitative data are dependent on each other in supporting knowledge claims?

Human science is the study and interpretation of the experiences, activities, constructs and artefacts associated with human beings [4] . It is the study of human phenomena. [5] How does the experiment in human sciences are being conducted since it dealing with human behaviour? Data that are being collected in the study of human sciences are linguistic data and numerical data [6] . Linguistic data refers to data that forms a meaningful structure to convey information from the subject to the researcher and the researcher to the scientific community [7] . On the other hand, numerical data provides a method to quantify data collected and provide statistical interpretations of the collected data [8] . Linguistic data is the most effective data type in the study of the human being, since this is the common method of communication for this species. The linguistic data is considered the qualitative data since they are describing certain events by using words. The strength of collecting qualitative data includes yield richer, detailed and more complex, data than other forms of data collection.   Observation is used to describe the complexity of human behaviour, including the kinds and intensity of the actions of people, the emotions that are involved, what is said, and how different members of the group influence each other. Apart from that, it provides descriptions of what actually happens in real life situations. However, considerable amount of training, experience, and skill required to observe and record events accurately and completely [9] . Not everybody can acquire the needed skills to collect the qualitative data. Thus this is considered the limitation of qualitative data. Numerical data are more suitable for sciences that deal with exact differentiation between study elements and groups. Data from linguistic type can be statistically analyzed but only after the data has been translated into a numerical data type. Linguistic data provides the researcher the ability to identify and analyze patterns within the study fields.

The quantitative data and the qualitative data are dependent on each other in order to support the knowledge claim in human sciences. Since human sciences are dealing with the behaviour of human being, thus in order to describe the character or an event, words is needed. Qualitative data is the best method to be used to describe certain behaviour better compared to quantitative data. It is very descriptive. On the other hand, quantitative data cannot be used to describe certain types of behaviour of data but it can be used to measure the occurrences of the event that is being described by the qualitative data. Example of knowledge claim in human sciences is when we are stressed, certain symptoms will be observed. In order to prove this hypothesis, a number of people need to be tested so that the hypothesis will be applicable to the area of knowledge. Apart from that, qualitative data yield richer, detailed and more complex data than other forms of data collection which cannot be obtained from quantitative data. However, ones perception regarding certain event might cause to interpret the qualitative data differently. Different people will interpret differently regarding a particular matter. This is because, each individual were brought up in different environment, different culture and belief and also with different education background. These factors cause us to be who we are today and lead to different way of seeing, thinking, understanding and interpreting things around us.

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On the other hand, the other area of knowledge that has been chosen is history. History is the study of the human past. It is a field of research which uses a narrative to examine and analyse the sequence of events and it often attempts to investigate objectively the patterns of cause and

effect that determine events. [10] Quantitative data in history is involves the use of numeric data-or other evidence that can be counted-as a primary source for analysis and interpretation. [11] In history, quantitative data will tell about the number of samples taken, date of the artefacts and the number of people that are involved in a certain event. For example, it will able to tell approximately number of animals that exist in a particular place in that era based on the fossils that are being found by the archaeologist, the date of the artefacts found by the archaeologist based on carbon dating and many more. Usually, quantitative data in history evolved around the number of samples taken in order to determine about the past and the number of people that are related to the event. The strength of quantitative data includes able to determine the existence of a particular generation or civilisations based on the artefacts that are being found. The limitations include the researches tends to remain objectively separated from the subject matter and there is no descriptions about that particular civilisations.

However, the use of quantitative data alone in history is quite limited and will not satisfy the findings. This is because; history is dealing with the human past. Human past is about the events that have occurred in those days that are being investigated. It mainly revolves around the descriptions about a particular matter and events. Historians are the one who records the events that have occurred in the past. They describe the events that take place based on their observations, findings and interpretations. Qualitative data are dealing mainly with descriptions and can be observed but not measured. By using qualitative data, descriptions regarding a particular civilisation will be known. The strength of qualitative data in this field include providing more detailed information to explain complex issues and it can describe actual behaviour in a given situation which cannot be provided by

quantitative data. Available qualitative data describes only certain features of past situations while surveys provide only what respondents say is true about something [12] . These verbal responses may or may not match what the respondents actually do in real life. Thus, this is one of the limitations of qualitative data.

On the other hand, quantitative data that has been obtained by the historians cannot stand alone in this particular field. Numbers are unable to describe what actually happened in real life situation. They can only provide evidence regarding the existence of a particular civilisation based on carbon dating of fossils, artefacts and many more. Thus, qualitative data plays a vital role in history. It able us to describe an event better. We are able to know about the event that happened, what actually occurred, the causes and the effects of a certain event by looking at the qualitative data that have been gathered by the historians. However, the drawback of qualitative data is that the data that has been recorded might not be accurate since it will be influenced by ones’ perception. Apart from that, the culture and beliefs will affect ones’ sense of perception. The way that we are brought causes us to think and interpret differently. In history, the original creators of the facts have their own views and perspectives about the situation itself. For example, Tok Janggut was considered as hero to the local citizens in Terengganu when he was against the British. Unfortunately, Western historians do not consider him as a hero but a troublemaker. Same goes with the incident on 13th May 1963. Who started the riot, the Malays or the Chinese? A book entitled May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969 written by Dr Kua Kia Soong states that The Malays who started the riots

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while the internet states that the opposition (the Chinese and the Indians) who started the riots [13] . Our perception and the way we were brought up causes us to see the same thing differently.

Nevertheless, quantitative data and qualitative data depend on each other in order to support the knowledge claim in human sciences and also history. Certain information can only be gathered by quantitative data and some descriptive information can only be obtained by qualitative data. Qualitative data helps us to interpret the events that have occurred whether in human sciences or in history while quantitative data will provide the evidence. In a



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