Critical Case

A critical case usually refers to a single case under investigation that provides so much detail in a context with such great relevance that new theoretical propositions can be created, developed, revised, or debunked. A critical case can build a theory by either disproving an existing theory or by formulating a new one from scratch. In addition, it can serve as a catalyst for further developing an existing theory. Critical case studies are usually qualitative studies.

Leon Festinger’s cognitive dissonance theory is a good illustration of how a theory can be built through a critical case. After the magnitude 8 earthquake in India-Nepal in 1934, Festinger observed that affected people in the vicinity of the damaged area were worried about the possibility of worse disasters to ...

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