Empiricism in the form of quantitative methods has sometimes been used by researchers to thwart human welfare and social justice. Some of the ugliest moments in the history of psychology were a result of researchers using quantitative methods to legitimize and codify the prejudices of the day. This has resulted in the view that quantitative methods are antithetical to the pursuit of social justice for oppressed and marginalized groups. While the ambivalence toward quantitative methods by some is understandable given their misuse by some researchers, we argue that quantitative methods are not inherently oppressive. Quantitative methods can be liberating if used by multiculturally competent researchers and scholar-activists committed to social justice. Examples of best practices in social justice oriented quantitative research are reviewed.
Comment (from this Blueprint): Cokley and Awad are both psychologists, whose work seeks to redress the wrongs of past injustices against marginalized groups, and who both use quantitative methods to do so. In this article, they sketch some of the historical reasons why members of marginalized groups are sometimes rightly suspicious of the use of quantative techniques. However, they both argue that quantitative methods are not necessarily oppressive, but can be put to good use provided their practioners are committed to social justice. They offer some examples, from their own work, of how this sort of quantitative work can help to further the cause of social justice.