Analyzing Paradigms of Positivism and Naturalism

The research follows a specific belief that examination of a phenomenon may be best understood by conducting an in-depth investigation of a certain process. The positivist paradigm of research prevails in the field of scientific research and it takes on the idea that research data is collected based on independent verification. Analysts thus describe that the positivist paradigm employs a one-way mirror (Kolakowski, 1972).

Unfortunately, it is also understood that the positivist paradigm declines the teachings of metaphysics and in turn, claims that any observations and information that are gathered using the positivist paradigm are based on a basic description of what was seen during the observation of the phenomenon. Any other information beyond the sighting is thus held by positivists is improbable. Generally, positivists detach themselves from the setting of what they are investigating, the opposite of that naturalist paradigm, which follows the concept that the researcher immerses himself in the situation he is investigating.

The positivist paradigm believes that the goal of science is to reveal the truth, as well as to better understand a certain phenomenon to generate better predictions based on the trends and patterns that are observed in their experimental investigation. The positivist paradigm upholds the concept that the world and its associated events can be resolved, explained, and understood by the simple effort of observation and taking down notes on each event that has unfolded. This deterministic approach follows the correlation of cause, which then results in an effect. Hence, the positivist paradigm believes that each event can be explained through a mechanistic way, wherein a starting situation with specific and measurable features results in a corresponding effect or response.

On the other hand, the naturalist paradigm believes that every phenomenon is a result of interactions of several other variables and is not caused by a simple stimulus (Lincoln and Guba, 1985). This constructive approach thus needs to have the investigator immersed within a certain experimental situation and the investigator has to take note of all components of the entire environment because the naturalist believers assume that each event is a resultant is the result of multiple factors. The naturalist paradigm thus does not follow the concept of cause and effect per se, but that several causes may result in an entire response.

The two paradigms of positivism and naturalism are thus opposite each other because the naturalist paradigm believes that everything existing around us is the result of human activity, or man-made, while the positivist paradigm upholds the concept that the current world is the conglomeration of several effects that are results of several causes. The naturalist paradigm considers every existing situation as good, while the positivist paradigm perceives that some existing conditions are good, while the rest are bad. Thus the interpretation of investigations may vary, depending mainly on the school of thought the investigation believes in.


Kolakowski L: (1972): Positivist science. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books.

Lincoln Y and Guba E (1985): Naturalistic inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.