Q: What is conceptual framework in research?

Detailed Question -

What is the meaning of conceptual framework? Can you provide an example for research?

1 Answer to this question

There are two kinds of framework used when writing the background of a study, theoretical and conceptual.


A theoretical framework is a broad and established set of rules, truths, or principles on which the study is founded. Examples include Newton’s laws of motion in physical sciences and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in social sciences. Thus, for instance, a physicist could use Newton’s laws of motion, or one of the laws, to study the appearance of comets, the speed of asteroids, or the gravitational pull of a black hole. Similarly, a sociologist could use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to study the life cycle of social media platforms. Note that you can use multiple theoretical frameworks as needed for your study.


The theoretical framework leads into the conceptual framework, which is a specific exploration of an aspect of the theoretical framework. In other words, the conceptual framework is used to arrive at a hypothesis. Let’s look at a couple of classical examples. Archimedes used theories about gravity and buoyancy (theoretical frameworks) to understand the behavior of different objects when immersed (conceptual framework), which led him to a method to accurately identify a gold object under immersion (hypothesis). Similarly, Pavlov used stimuli and response (theoretical frameworks) to study conditioning in animal subjects (conceptual framework), which led him to predict that upon being conditioned to one set of stimuli, the animal would later respond in the same way to the presentation of any one of the stimuli (hypothesis).


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