An example of explanatory research is a study that is trying to determine whether a variable, circumstances or chance is the cause of dangerous drinking behavior in college. For example, research may look at work habits, home environments, college living arrangements and maturation levels to see what aspect explains why some students choose to participate in heavy drinking.
Other examples of explanatory research are studies that try to explain why a particular social phenomenon occurs. A study that attempts to explain why pedestrians exhibit unsafe behavior is considered explanatory research because it seeks to find causes that are associated with the behavior. Research that looks at how callers behave with various genres of hold music is another instance of explanatory research.