Descriptive Research vs Correlational Research

Descriptive Research and Correlational Research

Descriptive research and Correlational research are two important types of research studies that help researchers make ambitious and measured decisions in their respective fields.

Descriptive research is defined as a research method that involves observing behavior to describe attributes, objectively and systematically.

Correlational research, on the other hand, is a method that describes and predicts how variables are naturally related in the real world, without any attempt by the researcher to alter them or assign causation between them.

The main objective of descriptive research is to create a snapshot of the current state of affairs whereas correlational research helps in comparing two or more entities or variables.

How are these studies carried out?

Descriptive research is carried out using three methods, namely:

  • Case studies- Case studies involve in-depth research and study of individuals or groups. Case studies lead to a hypothesis and widen a further scope of studying a phenomenon. However, case studies should not be used to determine cause and effect as they don’t have the capacity to make accurate predictions.
  • Surveys- Survey is a set of questions that is administered to a population also known as respondents. Surveys are a popular market research tool that helps collect meaningful insights from the respondents. In order for a survey to gather good quality data, it should have good survey questions, which should be a balanced mix of open-ended questions and close ended-questions.
  • Naturalistic Observation- Naturalistic observations are carried out in the natural environment without disturbing the person/ object in observation. It is much like taking down notes about people in a supermarket without actually letting them know. This leads to a greater validity of data collected, because here people are unaware that they are being observed. This tends to bring out their natural characteristics.

Correlational research also uses naturalistic observation to collect data, however, in addition, it uses archival data to gather information. Archival data is collected from pa reviously conducted research of sa imilar nature. Archiva data is collected through primary research.

In contrast to naturalistic observation, information collected through archived is straightforward. For example, counting the number of people named Jacinda in the United States using their social security number.  

Descriptive Research Vs Correlational Research

Attributes Descriptive Research Correlational Research
Purpose Descriptive research is used to uncover new facts and meaning of a research. Correlational research is carried out to measure two variables.
Nature Descriptive research is analytical in nature where in-depth studies help to collect information during research. Correlational nature is mathematical in nature. It uses correlation coefficient to statistically measure the relation between two variables.
Aims Descriptive nature provides a knowledge base for carrying out other quantitative research This type of research is used to explore the extent to which two variables in a study are related?
Example Research done to obtain information on the most widely used employee motivation tools in the hospitality industry. Research done to know if cancer and marriage have any relation or not.