What Is The Difference Between Open Ended And Close Ended Questions?


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Nouman Umar answered
Open ended questions allow respondents to answer them in any way they choose. An example of an open-ended question is asking the respondent to state five things that are interesting and challenging in the job. Another example is asking what the respondents like about their supervisors or their work environment. A third example is to invite their comments on the investment portfolio of the firm.

A closed question in contrast would ask the respondents to make choices among a set of alternatives given by the researcher. For instance instead of asking the respondent to state any five aspects of the job that she finds interesting and challenging, the researcher might list 10 or 15 aspects that might seem interesting or challenging in jobs and ask the respondents to rank the first five among these in order of their preference. All items in a questionnaire using a nominal, ordinal or like or ratio scale are considered closed.

Closed questions help the respondents to make quick decisions to choose among the several alternatives before them. They also help the researcher to code the information easily for subsequent analysis. Care has to be taken to ensure that the alternatives are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. If there are overlapping categories or if all possible alternatives are not given the categories are not exhaustive, the respondent might get confused.

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