Close Ended Questions

Close ended questions and its question types are critical for collecting survey responses within a limited frame of options. Closed ended questions are the foundation of all statistical analysis techniques applied on questionnaires and surveys.

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What are Close Ended Questions: Definition

Close ended questions are defined as question types that ask respondents to choose from a distinct set of pre-defined responses, such as “yes/no” or among a set multiple choice questions. In a typical scenario, closed-ended questions are used to gather quantitative data from respondents.

Closed-ended questions come in a multitude of forms, but are defined by their need to have explicit options for a respondent to select from.

However, one should opt for the most applicable question type on a case-by-case basis, depending on the objective of the survey. To understand more about the close ended questions let us first know its types.

Types of Close Ended Questions with Examples

Dichotomous Question

These close ended question are indicative questions that can be answered either in one of the two ways, “yes” or “no” or “true” or “false”.

Dichotomous Questions

Multiple choice question

A multiple choice close ended questions are easy and flexible and helps the researcher obtain data that is clean and easy to analyse. It typically consists of stem- the question, correct answer, closest alternative and distractors.

Multiple choice question
Types of Multiple Choice Questions
1. Likert Scale Multiple Choice Questions

These closed ended questions, typically are 5 pointer or above scale questions where the respondent is required to complete the questionnaire that needs them to indicate the extent to which they agree or disagree.

Likert Scale Multiple Choice Questions
2. Rating Scale Multiple Choice Questions

These close ended questions require the respondents to assign a fixed value in response, usually numeric. The number of scale points depends on what sort of questions a researcher is asking.

Rating Scale Multiple Choice Questions
3. Checklist type Multiple Choice Questions

This type of closed ended question expects the respondents to make choices from the many options that have been stated, the respondent can choose one or more options depending on the question being asked.

Checklist type Multiple Choice Questions
4. Rank Order Multiple Choice Question

These closed ended questions come with multiple options from which the respondent can choose based on their preference. From most prefered to least prefered (usually in bullet points).

Rank Order Multiple Choice Question

When to use Close Ended Questions?

In a survey it is most likely that you may end up answering only close ended questions. There is a specific reason to this, close ended question helps gather actionable, quantitative data. Let’s look at the definitive instances where closed-ended questions are useful.

  1. To obtain quantitative insights:

    Closed Ended Questions have very distinct responses, one can use these responses by allocating a value to every answer. This makes it easy to compare responses of different individuals which, in turn, enables statistical analysis of survey findings.

    For example: respondents have to rate a product from 1 to 5 (where 1= Horrible, 2=Bad, 3=Average, 4= Good, and 5=Excellent) an average rating of 2.5 would mean the product is below average.

  2. To restrict the responses:

    To reduce doubts, to increase consistency and to understand the outlook of a parameter across the respondents close ended questions work the best as they have a specific set of responses, that restricts the respondents and allows the person conducting the survey obtain a more concrete result.

    For example, if you ask open ended question “Tell me about your mobile usage”, you will end up receiving a lot of unique responses. Instead one can use close ended question (multiple choice), “How many hours do you use your mobile in a day”, 0-5 hours, 5-10 hours, 10-15 hours. Here you can easily analyse the data form a conclusion saying, “54% of the respondents use their mobile for 0-5 hours a day.”

  3. To conduct surveys on a large scale:

    Close ended questions are often asked to collect facts about respondents. They usually take less time to answer. Close ended questions work the best when the sample population of the respondents is large.

    For example, if an organization wants to collect information on the gadgets provided to its employees instead of asking a question like, “What gadgets has the organization provided to you?”, it is easier to give the employees specific choice like, laptop, tablet, phone, mouse, others. This way the employees will be able to choose quickly and correctly.

Advantages of Close Ended Questions

  1. They are easy to understand hence the respondents don’t need to spend much time on reading the questions time and again. Close ended questions are quick to respond to.

  2. When the data is obtained and needs to be compared closed ended question provide better insight.

  3. Since close ended questions are quantifiable, the statistical analysis of the same becomes much easier.

  4. Since the response to the questions are straightforward it is much likely that the respondents will answer on sensitive or even personal questions.

Although, many organisations use open ended questions in their survey, using close ended question is beneficial because closed-ended questions come in a variety of forms and they are usually categorized based on the need to have specific options for the respondents, so that they can select them without any hesitation.

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