Heuristic inquiry: Differentiated from descriptive phenomenology and aligned with transpersonal research methods.

Heuristic inquiry has been classified by many qualitative researchers, as a phenomenological approach, whereas transpersonal psychologists consider it a transpersonal research method. However, Moustakas, the creator of heuristic inquiry, distinguished heuristic research from descriptive phenomenology, and labeled it personal, instead of transpersonal. The differences between heuristic research and descriptive phenomenology are highlighted in this article for methodological clarity, and evidence from Moustakas’s writings is presented to support the argument that heuristic inquiry could be considered either a personal or a transpersonal research method. Distinguishing phenomenological characteristics such as a grounding in philosophy and the application of the psychological-phenomenological reduction are missing from the heuristic inquiry design. In addition, heuristic inquiry is a person-centered approach, whereas the phenomenological method is a phenomenon-centered approach. Multiple essential similarities with transpersonal research methods, such as transpersonal descriptors, incorporating the researcher’s personal experience, and a transformational impact justify the transpersonal classification. In addition, the article presents some challenges encountered in heuristic applications, such as discomfort with personal disclosure, privileging the researcher’s personal experience, and unique ethical issues such as handling the confidentiality of the researcher as participant. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)