Mass Media Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Comparison

Andreana Apostolopoulos
5 min readApr 3, 2022


Mass Media research is important to test theories and identify trends in how media is produced and how the public consumes and internalizes it. Most commonly used throughout mass media communication research is a Quantitative approach, meaning a study measured through the collection and analysis of data. Other research relies on Qualitative means of measurement, which is research that is done through observation, interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, documents, and artifacts. Testing a theory provides value in approaching ideas through different lenses. Quantitative data takes a macro approach to identifying a trend, while Qualitative research asks why the data is showing this and through what behaviors this data is generated by.

Reviewing two pieces of research utilizing the Qualitative and Quantitative approaches, I will be looking at the valid contributions each brings to the mass communication field and which method I found to be communicated more clearly than the other.

News media and public attitudes toward the protests of 2020: An examination of the mediating role of perceived protester violence

The first study I will be reviewing is an example of Quantitative research. This study investigated the role of the news media in shaping the attitudes of viewers towards the 2020 protests. Data was pulled from a nationally representative election survey from the 2020 American National Election Studies (ANES) time series. The survey questions respondents about voting behavior and various topics relevant to issues currently facing the United States. This was used to examine (1) support for law-and-order approaches to dealing with rioting and protest violence and (2) the perception that the protests of the summer of 2020 were violent.

Below is an example of the Quantitative data gathered and analyzed for the research study. Using metrics such as mean, standard deviation, range, and the sample size is a perfect example of Quantitative data categorized to draw a picture.

The results from the research show that viewers of left-leaning media sites are less likely to support law-and-order policies to address protest violence. In contrast, viewers of right-leaning sites are more likely to support that notion. This instills that political bias plays a role in the perception of the 2020 protests. News outlets leaning either left or right impact the viewer’s opinion of the event and perception of violence.

Overall, looking at the data, without being versed in statistics and research and without explanation, it may be challenging to understand what is being represented within these results. It takes a complex theory and provides some sort of measurement and structure to it through the different variables and categories. The research has helped solidify the ideas that specific news outlets represent a bias regarding the 2020 protests. That perceived violence helps shape the association of online news media with support for law-and-order policies.

Understanding trust influencing factors in social media communication: A qualitative study

This research article explores trust influencing factors in peer-to-peer interpersonal communication, group communication, and mass communication. The research questions were “What are the influencing trust factors in Wechat communication” and “How could trust factors affect different types of WeChat communications.” During the study, researchers utilized a trust traffic light model to illustrate keywords drawn from interviews with 115 undergraduate students who use a mobile app called WeChat communications. In addition, a coding system was created to categorize the answers of the different interviewees according to each interview question.

This research found that WeChat users appear to be rational individuals who acknowledge the benefits and costs when making decisions. That is to say, if mass communication is time-saving, there will be lower costs and less required effort. This study extends the literature on trust influencing factors in social media communication by diving in and taking a micro approach with three different communication modes as part of their research. Additionally, when it supports the theory that many users find value in using a mass communication site to get information. However, I found this research to be a little more difficult to understand since different methods and measurements were used throughout the study. I also felt the results were extremely segreagted into specific factors.

Both pieces of Mass Communication literature offer great insight into different questions concerning the effects of mass media communication on society. Whether that’s the bias that news outlets have on significant events or how people perceive getting media from a different source such as social media. It’s interesting to see how the two research methods are used to identify significant results.