Closed-ended question definition
A closed-ended question generates a limited set of responses that can be coded easily in a database with some number or symbol that represents a response. Multiple-choice, ordinal, interval, and ratio questions generate closed-ended responses.
Closed-ended questions should not always be thought of as simple questions that anyone can quickly answer merely because they require a yes or no answer. Close-ended questions can also be very complicated. Anyone who has ever filled out a multiple-choice test can testify to that. But they are easier to analyze than open-ended questions.
Closed-ended question examples
Here are examples of closed-ended questions:
- Would you like vanilla ice cream?
- Where did you go to college?
- What is your best quality?
- Do you enjoy your car?
- Does your brother have the same interests as you?
- Do you like animals?
- When is your birthday?
Be aware that you don't turn your closed-ended questions into a leading question.
Closed-ended question advantages
- It is easier and quicker for respondents to answer
- The answers of different respondents are easier to compare
- Answers are easier to code and statistically analyze
- The response choices can clarify question meaning for respondents
- Respondents are more likely to answer about sensitive topics
- There are fewer irrelevant or confusing answers to questions
- Less articulate or less literate respondents are not at a disadvantage
- Replication is easier
Closed-ended question disadvantages
- They can suggest ideas that the respondent would not otherwise have
- Respondents with no opinion or no knowledge can answer any way
- Respondents can be frustrated because their desired answer is not a choice
- It is confusing if many response choices are offered
- Misinterpretation of a question can go unnoticed
- Distinctions between respondent answers may be blurred
- Clerical mistakes or marking the wrong response is possible
- They force respondents to give simplistic responses to complex issues
- They force people to make choices they would not make in the real world