Dichotomous questions

These are questions with only two possible answers, e.g. yes/no questions. For use of these questions to be valid the answer must fall unambiguously into one of the two categories offered, e.g. 'Do you buy ready-made biscuits rather than bake your own?' is ambiguous because many people do both and so could not answer 'yes' or 'no'. Similarly, if qualified answers to the question are possible, then the answers may be invalidated. 'Do you intend to invest in new IT equipment?' is an example of a question that for many companies would be answered, 'It depends'. However, when a straight yes or no is appropriate, dichotomous questions are easy to ask, easy to answer and easy to analyse statistically. For completeness in recording responses, a 'don't know' category is included on the questionnaire. The three possible responses, 'yes/no/don't know', can be assigned code numbers which are printed on the questionnaire so that the interviewer just rings the response given. This precoding saves time, effort and therefore cost in processing responses. Code numbers can be entered directly from the completed questionnaires for computer analysis. Precoding is explained further in Section 8.9, and questions 34, 35 and 37 in Figure 8.2 are examples of precoded dichotomous questions.

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