Advantages & Disadvantages of Positivism

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As a doctrine, positivism believes the basis for knowledge and thought should depend on the scientific method. It was introduced by Auguste Comte, a French philosopher who coined the term “positivism.” The positivist does not derive conclusions from a subjective approach and does not let feelings and emotions cloud his judgment because these things are in the person’s consciousness. The consciousness, Comte inferred, cannot be objectively observed.

1 Advantage: Quantitative Approach

Positivism relies on quantitative data that positivists believe is more reliable than qualitative research. Quantitative research is more “scientific” in its methods than qualitative research and thus more trustworthy. In research, quantitative data provides objective information that researchers can use to make scientific assumptions.

2 Advantage: Structure

Positivism follows a well-defined structure during studies and discussions. Positivists believe that since there are set laws and rules followed, there will be minimum room for error. This structure also gives little room for variance and drastic variable changes, thus making the study more accurate when it comes to experiments and applications as it tries to follow specific rules using objective mathematical and scientific tools.

3 Disadvantage: Human Behavior

Positivism believes that objective inferences and conclusions can be reached as long as the person doing the observation is objective and disregards her emotions. However, human behavior naturally comes with emotional responses. Although positivism encourages researchers to disregard human emotion and behavior, there is no guarantee that this will occur at all times during studies.

4 Disadvantage: Inflexibility

Some scholars believe that since positivists believe everything can be measured and calculated, they tend to be inflexible. Positivists see things as they are and tend to disregard unexplained phenomena. If a theory that says A only occurs when B and C combine, then B can never be A. This belief can eliminate lateral thinking, which is the process of finding answers by creatively and indirectly finding out ways to solve a problem.

Steve Johnson is an avid and passionate writer with more than five years of experience. He's written for several industries, including health, dating and Internet marketing, as well as for various websites. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Texas.