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Open-ended and closed-ended questions are two different types of questions that are used in surveys and research. The main difference between the two is the type of response they elicit.
So, let’s get right into open-ended vs. closed-ended questions.
Open-ended questions allow respondents to provide a free-form answer, meaning that they can respond in their own words.
These types of questions are used to gather qualitative data, as they allow for a more in-depth and detailed understanding of the respondent’s thoughts and opinions.
However, open feedback can be time-consuming to analyze, and the responses may be more difficult to compare across respondents.
Examples of open-ended questions
Examples of open-ended questions include:
- How would you improve our product/ service?
- Can you tell me about a difficult experience you’ve had and how you overcame it?
- How do you see the future of this industry?
- What do you think are the most important qualities for success in this field?
- Can you describe a time when you had to work with a difficult team member?
- In your opinion, what are some of the major challenges facing society today?
- How do you manage stress and stay motivated in your work?
- Can you tell me about a particularly meaningful project you have worked on?
- In your opinion, what are the key factors that contribute to a successful business?
- How do you approach problem-solving and decision-making in your work?
When it comes to choosing a question type for open-ended questions, you’ll likely need to use one of the below:
Closed-ended questions require a one word answer, such as a yes or no, or a selection from a predefined list of options.
These types of questions collect quantitative data, as they allow for easy comparison and analysis.
One advantage of closed-ended questions is that they are quick and easy to answer, and they can be used to gather a large amount of data in a short period of time. They are also useful for comparing responses across a large sample of respondents.
There are lots of question types you can use when asking closed-ended questions in surveys, including:
- Multiple choice questions
- Matrix (Likert Scale)
- Opinion scale (rating scale)
- Net Promoter Score
- Binary Yes/No
- Star rating
- Picture choice questions
- Drop-down list
- Order ranking
Examples of closed-ended questions
Here are some usable examples of closed-ended questions:
- How old are you?
- What is your gender?
- Are you currently employed?
- In which country do you reside?
- How likely are you to recommend this product/ service to a friend or colleague?
- On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the service you received?
- Do you own or rent your home?
- How many children do you have?
- What is your highest level of education?
- On what date will you be attending the event?
Open-ended vs. closed-ended questions, which to use?
It is also important to note that the use of open-ended and closed-ended questions is not mutually exclusive, and a survey or research study can include a mix of both types of questions.
This provides a more well-rounded understanding of the research topic, as the quantitative data from closed-ended questions compliments the qualitative data from open-ended questions.
There you have it, the difference between open-ended vs. closed-ended questions lies in the type of data they collect.
Open-ended questions elicit free-form responses which makes them perfect for qualitative research. Whilst closed-ended questions are essential for quantitative research.
Both types of questions have their advantages and disadvantages, but work well when used in tandem to provide a more complete understanding of the topic being researched.