In contrast to open-ended questions, close-ended questions limit the possible responses to a predetermined set of options or a simple “yes” or “no.”
While open-ended questions can provide in-depth and nuanced information, close-ended questions offer a more efficient way to gather specific data and statistics.
Why Use Close-Ended Questions?
Close-ended questions benefit quantitative research, where the goal is to gather numerical data that can be easily analyzed and compared. They also offer a straightforward way to categorize responses and draw conclusions from the data.
Additionally, close-ended questions can be helpful when time or resources are limited, such as in surveys or market research. They allow for quick and uniform data collection, making it easier to draw meaningful insights and make informed decisions, even if the data set is large.
Characteristics of Close-Ended Questions
- Limited possible responses or options
- Easily quantifiable
- Quick and efficient to answer
- Often used in surveys or market research
Examples of Close-Ended Questions
Common close-ended questions include multiple-choice, ranking scale, or binary questions. Here are some examples:
- Which brand of laundry detergent do you prefer from the following options?
- On a scale of 1 to 5, how likely are you to recommend our restaurant?
- Do you prefer online shopping or in-store shopping?
- Are you a vegetarian or a meat-eater?
- Would you be interested in attending our next event?
- Did you find our customer service helpful?
- Would you rather spend your vacation at a beach or in the mountains?
- How much do you typically spend on groceries each week? Select from the range below.
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with your recent travel experience?
- Do you believe climate change is real?
- Which of the following credit cards do you use?
Tips for Asking Close-Ended Questions
The follow are some tips for crafting and asking close-ended questions.
Keep Them Simple and Direct
When forming close-ended questions, keep them simple and direct. Avoid using complex or ambiguous language that may confuse respondents.
Provide Clear and Specific Response Options
To gather accurate data, provide clear and specific response options for each question.
For example, if asking the question, “How often do you eat out?” provide options such as “Once a week,” “2-3 times a week,” etc.
Avoid Leading or Biased Questions
Leading or loaded questions can unintentionally influence respondents and skew the results. Be mindful of the language used and ensure that all options are neutral.
Use a Mix of Close-Ended and Open-Ended Questions
Combining close-ended and open-ended questions in a survey or research can provide a well-rounded understanding of the topic.
Use close-ended questions and open-ended questions to gather specific data for more detailed insights. Begin with close-ended questions to warm up and engage the respondent.
Test Your Questions Beforehand
Before using close-ended questions in a research setting, it’s helpful to test them with a small group of people and gather feedback. This can help identify any confusing or unclear phrasing that may need to be revised.
Types of Close-Ended Questions
Use a range of close-ended questions to get the responses you are looking for. Here are types of close-ended questions to choose from:
Binary or Dichotomous Questions
These questions offer only two options, such as “yes” or “no,” “true” or “false,” making them easy to answer but not very informative.
- Do you own a car?
- Have you ever owned health insurance?
Multiple-choice questions provide a list of options for respondents to choose from. They can offer more variety and depth in responses compared to dichotomous questions.
- Which social media platform do you use the most? Select all options that apply.
- How satisfied are you with our customer service? Select from the options below.
Ranking Scale Questions
These questions ask respondents to rank their preferences or opinions on a scale, usually 1-5 or 1-10. They can provide more detailed and nuanced data than dichotomous or multiple-choice questions.
Examples: On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend our product to others?
Ranking Order Questions
These questions ask respondents to rank items in order of importance or preference. They can provide valuable insights on what matters most to your target audience.
Examples: Rank the following factors in order of importance when choosing a vacation destination.
Benefits of Close-Ended Questions
Close-ended questions offer several advantages over other forms of questions. Here are some key benefits:
1. Easier to Analyze
Closed-ended questions provide responses that can be easily quantified and analyzed, making identifying patterns and trends in the data simpler.
2. Less Time-Consuming
Since respondents only need to select from predetermined options, closed-ended questions can be quicker to answer, making them ideal for larger surveys.
3. More Objective Responses
Closed-ended questions offer objectivity as the choices are standardized and do not depend on individual interpretation. This can help reduce bias in responses.
Closed-Ended Questions Vs. Open Ended Questions
Open-ended questions allow for more in-depth and varied responses, providing subjective insights. They are useful for understanding thought processes and opinions. However, they can be time-consuming and challenging to analyze.
Common types of open-ended questions include essay, opinion-based, and problem-solving questions.
While open-ended questions are valuable for qualitative research, close-ended questions offer a more efficient and straightforward way to gather specific data and statistics. Researchers can comprehensively understand their target audience by using a mix of both types of questions.
Open-Ended Question Examples
- How do you feel about the current political climate?
- Describe your ideal vacation.
- What challenges have you faced in your career?
- How can we improve our customer service experience?
- Tell us about a time when you had to resolve a conflict.
Close-ended Questions To Ask Customers or Clients
- How often do you use our product/service? Select from the options.
- On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with your experience?
- Which of the following features do you find most useful in our product?
- Are you familiar with our new product line? Yes/No.
- Would you recommend our company to a friend or colleague?
- Which of the following best describes your reason for choosing us as your service provider?
In summary, close-ended questions offer a more direct and efficient way to gather specific information. While they may not provide the depth or nuance of open-ended questions, they can be helpful when the main priorities are time, resources, or quantifiable data.
By crafting clear and well-designed questions, you can gather valuable insights and make informed decisions for your business or research purposes. So, next time you need to gather specific and actionable information, consider using close-ended questions in your research methods.
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.