Types of response format

Questions can be open ended, where the respondent may answer in their own way, or closed ended, where all possible answers are prespecified. Open-ended questions can reveal more information and are often worthwhile during exploratory work when you want to discover what people think. Closed-ended questions, however, are easier to interpret and tabulate.

There is evidence that respondents react differently to the two types of question. When the same question is put to matched samples of respondents, responses vary with the approach used.1

Closed-ended questions

In a closed-ended question, the question is followed by a structured response. All possible answers are given with the question. Such questions are easy to use, reduce interviewer bias, reduce the bias exhibited by respondents in answering questions and facilitate coding and tabulation.

Dichotomous question A dichotomous question suggests two answers: usually yes and no. These types of question are excellent where a fact is to be determined and where the views of the respondents are likely to be clear-cut.

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