7 junio, 2024

Types of paradigm and their characteristics

The paradigms They are role models, and there are various types: the behavioral paradigm, the historical-social or the quantitative, among others. Paradigms are ways of interpreting reality and from them the world or an area of ​​science is investigated, studied and observed.

For example, from the behavioral paradigm of psychology, consciousness is rejected and observable behavior is studied.

Etymologically, the word paradigm has its origin in ancient Greece, derived from the term paradeigmawhich translates as model or example.

This is precisely the meaning currently given to it, since when the word paradigm is mentioned, it refers to examples, patterns or models to follow.

Therefore, paradigm is used to refer to the set of beliefs, examples and norms as an ideal to follow, whether it be of a culture, rule or discipline.

Since the 1960s, the term has been coined for scientific research, as well as for studies of epistemology, pedagogy, and psychology.

Main types of paradigm

educational paradigms

Based on this concept, several types of paradigms are recognized in education, of which the behavioral, constructivist, cognitive and historical-social stand out.

1. Behavioral paradigm

This model proposes that learning should be focused on observable and measurable data, where the teacher is perceived as a person with acquired skills, which he transmits according to a plan to achieve specific objectives.

The teacher must provide through principles, procedures and behavioral programs the tools to students to achieve the proposed learning objectives.

The student or student, within this paradigm, acts as the recipient of the instructions programmed by the teacher, even before meeting him, so he is conditioned to be a passive actor in an active world.

It is recognized that the student’s school performance and learning can be influenced or modified from outside the educational system.

2. Constructivist paradigm

This paradigm conceives the student as an active and changing entity, whose daily learning can be incorporated into previous experiences and already forged mental structures.

In this constructivist learning space, the student must internalize, transform and rearrange the new information to adapt it to their previous learning, which will allow them to face real situations.

3. Historical-social paradigm

Also known as the sociocultural model, developed in the 1920s by Lev Vigotsky, the main premise is that individual learning is influenced by their social environment, personal history, opportunities, and historical context in which it takes place.

Structurally, this paradigm is perceived as an open triangle, which is nothing more than the existing relationship between the subject, object and instruments in which the vertices are developed within the sociocultural context, playing a fundamental role in the construction of knowledge.

4. Cognitive paradigm

Developed in the 1950s in the United States, it is interested in highlighting that education should be aimed at developing learning skills, not just transmitting knowledge.

The cognitive model is derived from the combination of three fields, considered antecedents of this paradigm: information theory, linguistics and computer science.

From the educational point of view, the primary objectives of the school, according to the cognitive approach, should focus on learning to learn and/or teaching to think.

The cognitive dimensions developed in this paradigm are attention, perception, memory, intelligence, language, thought, among others.

research paradigms

Within the framework of social research, perspectives are developed in which two main paradigms are considered: the quantitative and the qualitative.

These are differentiated according to the type of knowledge that is expected to be obtained from the research carried out, according to the reality, object of study and the techniques used in the collection of information.

5. Quantitative paradigm

Directly related to the distributive perspective of social research, which aims to accurately describe the reality that is studied. To achieve its objective, this approach relies on statistical and mathematical techniques, such as the use of surveys and the respective statistical analysis of the data obtained.

In this way, objective knowledge is built, avoiding misrepresenting information or generating distortions derived from subjectivity. With this paradigm, laws or general norms of human conduct are established from the elaboration of empirical concepts.

6. Qualitative paradigm

For its part, the qualitative approach is closely related to the dialectical and structural perspectives of reality, focused on analyzing and understanding the responses of individuals to social actions and behaviors.

Unlike the quantitative paradigm, this one uses other techniques based on language analysis, such as interviews, thematic discussions, social creativity techniques, among others.

With this paradigm, they want to understand the structures of society rather than quantify them, focusing on the subjectivity of people and their perception of reality.

7. Positivist paradigm

Based on the philosophical approach of positivism, this paradigm was developed to study phenomena in the field of natural sciences. It is also called hypothetical-deductive, quantitative, empirical-analyst or rationalist.

Its origin arises in the 19th century and is also applied to the area of ​​social sciences, without affecting the differences between the two fields of study.

In positivist research, the existence of a single reality is affirmed, based on the principle that the world has its own existence, independent of who studies it and governed by laws, with which phenomena are explained, predicted and controlled.

According to this approach, the sciences have the objective of discovering these laws, reaching theoretical generalizations that contribute to enriching universal knowledge about a certain area.

9. Interpretive paradigm

Derived from the qualitative approach, this paradigm of interpretation poses the researcher as discoverer of the meaning of human actions and social life, describing the personal world of individuals, the motivations that guide it and their beliefs.

All with the intention of studying in depth what conditions behaviors. This paradigm applied to the social sciences is based on the concept that people’s actions are determined by the subjective burden of a reality, which cannot be observed or analyzed with quantitative methods.

Within the framework of the interpretive paradigm, the research presents the following characteristics:

naturalistic research. Study real world situations and their natural development without manipulating the information.

inductive analysis. The exploration is done through open questions, emphasizing the details to test the hypotheses by deduction.

holistic perspective. It is based on knowing the cause and effect considering the complex system that represents the relationship of interdependence of the parties involved.

qualitative data. Capture personal experiences with an accurate description of the information collected.

Contact and personal insight. The researcher has direct contact with the reality studied and its protagonists.

Dynamic systems. The changing processes in the individual or society during the investigation are described, understanding change and evolution as a fundamental part of the study.

Single case orientation. Each investigation is considered to be unique in its category due to the subjectivity of the individuals and the reality studied.

context sensitive. The research is located in the historical, social and temporal context to situate the discoveries made.

empathic neutrality. It is recognized that it is impossible to achieve full objectivity. The researcher develops empathy towards the situation studied and the perspective of the individuals.

Design flexibility. The investigation is not framed in a single design, but rather adapts to the combination of different designs to understand the situation and respond to emerging changes.

10. Empirical-analytical paradigm

In this approach, objectivity is prioritized over other elements, thus assuming replicability in research, which allows verifying the knowledge generated.

Derived from the quantitative paradigm, this model uses tools such as the deductive method and the application of quantitative strategies and techniques.

The objective of the investigations under this approach is to generate theories and laws that are not definitive, based on experimentation, empirical logic combined with the observation and analysis of phenomena, while supporting positive and rational theories.


Chavez, A. (2011). Evaluation of learning within different paradigms of educational psychology. Recovered from educate to learn.wordpress.com.
Definition of Paradigm. Recovered from conceptodefinicion.de.
González, A. (2003). Research paradigms in the social sciences. Retrieved from sociologiaunah.files.wordpress.com.
Gray, J. (2012). Evolution of science: 4 paradigms. Retrieved from 2.cs.man.ac.uk.
What is a paradigm? Recovered from explorable.com.

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