Applied research refers to one that has a specific direction and leads towards answering a particular hypothesis that typically have defined and structured methods whereas on the other hand, theoretical research provides a richer insight into broader areas and does not typically have defined methods of investigation and therefore the results are more likely to be capable of being generalised to the common population.
Both types of research serve an important purpose within the field of Psychology however it has been argued that without theoretical research, applied research would not even exist. Furthermore if theoretical research did not exist, we would have no basis on which to build broader research upon. As I have stated above, applied research is one that involves a particular direction in order to answer a specific hypothesis whereas theoretical research would provide more generalisable results that covers a larger spectrum of individuals. For example, applied research would involve analysing the effects of a drug on individuals that are suffering from depression whereas theoretical research would essentially investigate the effects of that particular drug on a sample of randomly selected participants that do not ”belong” within a certain category of individuals or so to speak.
To conclude critics believe that without the findings that are obtained from the results of theoretical research, applied researchers would not have the required knowledge that is essential in order to know what particular populations they need to target their hypothesis upon.