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Study notes

Questionnaires​

  • Levels: AS, A Level
  • Exam boards: AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Questionnaires are a written self-report technique where participants are given a pre-set number of questions to respond to. They can be administered in person, by post, online, over the telephone, or to a group of participants simultaneously.

Question format can be:

  • Closed questions – where there is a pre-determined set of answers to choose from
    • e.g. ‘Do you exercise?’ may have set responses of ‘yes/no’, or ‘I exercise 0/1/2/3+ times a week’)
  • Open questions – where there is no restriction on how participants make their response
    • e.g. ‘How does the sight of seeing dogs in a public place without a lead make you feel?’

Evaluation of questionnaires

Strengths:

- Questionnaires are a relatively cheap and quick way to gather a large amount of data.

- Since questionnaires can be completed privately (and often anonymously), responses may be more likely to be honest. However, not having an experimenter to supervise its completion could present a problem.

Weaknesses:

- Social desirability issues may arise, where participants give incorrect responses to try to put themselves in a socially acceptable light.

- Distributing questionnaires en masse (e.g. via post or the internet) means that any data collected relies on responses to be returned; response rates are often poor, plus it may be that only a certain type of person returns questionnaires, so generalising the sample of results to a large population can be unconvincing.

- Questionnaires may be flawed if some questions are leading (i.e. they suggest a desired response in the way they are worded).

- If any questions are misunderstood, participants completing questionnaires privately cannot get clarification on the meaning/responding accurately from an experimenter, so may complete them incorrectly.

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