Questionnaire Methods in Research Psychology

A questionnaire is a collection of questions organized under several topics that address the study topic being investigated by the researcher. These questions are then forwarded or read aloud to the respondent (sample selected for the study), and the questionnaire is filled out by the researcher or the respondents themselves. These replies are subsequently analyzed, and the resulting data is compiled. A questionnaire is, therefore, a research tool composed of a sequence of questions and other prompts designed to elicit information from respondents. Sir Francis Galton devised the questionnaire.

What is a Questionnaire?

A questionnaire is a data-collecting tool. This is the most popular strategy used by researchers to collect data. In order to collect data on a certain study topic, the researcher creates a list of questions that must be answered. The list of questions, prepared in some sequence, is either handed to the target audience in person or sent/mailed to them. A questionnaire is a collection of written questions that responders must complete. These responses serve as the main data for further inquiry. A questionnaire is a written document providing a series of questions relevant to the topic under research, to which the investigator seeks the responses.

Questionnaire Construction

When creating a questionnaire, the researcher must select questions and variables to receive correct responses to the study questions. This data collection approach aims to gain accurate and trustworthy information to perform smooth research and test hypotheses. The researcher must have a thorough grasp of the subject under investigation. As a result, before finalizing the wording of the questionnaire, s/he must research the relevant literature. The cover letter describes the researchers identified and the study aims and contains the requirement for a questionnaire.

It should also explain to respondents how the results will be used and what will happen to their responses. As a result, a cover letter asking for cooperation from the responder should clarify the questionnaire's aim and protect their replies' confidentiality. This guarantee will encourage responders to express themselves freely.

Types of Questionnaires

There are several sorts of questionnaires, and the type of questionnaire used will depend on the type of survey. Let us look at the many sorts of surveys we have. The first is a structured questionnaire, followed by an unstructured questionnaire and a semi-structured questionnaire. Let us take a closer look at each of these sorts.

Structured Questionnaires

These are structured, as the name implies. The answers have already been provided, and the respondent must check the box next to the most appropriate option. Most questionnaire replies are comprehensive; however, if a person wants to submit a response other than those included in the questionnaire, there is a column that says "any additional response, specify." However, except in exceptional circumstances, all replies are given and preset, and there is little freedom to add anything.

Unstructured Questionnaires

The questions are open-ended, and no answers are supplied or decided. As a result, the respondent can answer these questions in whatever way he sees fit. Despite being unstructured, the questions are asked in a specific order, and the researcher has planned this sequence. The researcher records the responses, or the responder fills them out themself. Because these questions allow for adding one's ideas and feelings, they produce extremely factual, truthful, and detailed replies.

Semi-structured Questionnaires

These surveys take a hybrid approach. Some of the questions are structured, while others are not. In general, there is a mixed attitude. Structured questionnaires enable the study of patterns and trends that characterize what is happening in the L&T environment and provide a gauge of respondents' opinions, attitudes, sentiments, and perceptions concerning matters of particular relevance to the evaluator. They also aid in identifying patterns and trends that demand further investigation utilizing qualitative methodologies.

Use of Scales

The questions should be written so the responses may be rapidly and readily analyzed. Some of the questions need simple number and percentage calculations. Scaling approaches such as rating and rank order scales should be utilized to address more difficult challenges. Weighted averages should be used to analyze replies to such queries.

  • Rating Scale − A rating scale is a measurement tool that asks the observer to allocate the rated object to numerically assigned categories or continua. Because they are simple and quick to use, this is the most often used measurement device. The time required to administer and measure the reaction is less than that of many other instruments, and as a result, it is less costly. They, however, "lack legitimacy due to their proclivity for persistent or biased inaccuracy." A rating scale may be a useful measurement tool if utilized with knowledge, competence, and discretion."

  • Rank Order Scale − The rank order scale is another rating scale used in surveys, and it is a straightforward and extremely useful scale. In this section, the respondent rates a set of things in order of preference. This technique "is significantly more inexpensive in terms of time and effort, both on the part of responders and investigators, especially when a high number of items are involved."

Purposes of Questionnaire Studies

  • Descriptive Research − The assignment here is to count something. The goal might be to estimate the parameters (population facts) for certain population features or to survey existing practices in a particular sector or profession.

  • Analytical Research − The investigator in these studies is usually interested in comparing the characteristics of two or more populations. Analytic studies are those in which the goal is to investigate the relationship between variables for a single population.

Designing Research Questionnaires

In every survey, the researcher or the organization that proposed the survey may attempt to obtain highly complicated information. Though their primary goal will be to obtain objective responses to the questions, they would also like to obtain sentiments, views, and a few subjective remarks about the issues and concerns discussed in the questionnaire. At the same time, the researcher must be careful not to project his or her prejudices as questions so that responses are likely to come from like-minded persons, those who guess the meaning, or those who interpret the questions in their manner and respond accordingly. It should be noted that responses to open questions often need to be clarified and more specific, making it impossible to determine what individuals truly mean.

Response Rate

In survey research, the response rate is critical. The response rate varies depending on the type of survey. For example, an extremely high response rate is necessary for a census survey. If the researcher receives a satisfactory answer, reflection is required.

The following reasons may be given−

  • The target population at the top level may not respond due to time constraints,

  • Difficulty in approaching the scattered respondents,

  • Respondents refuse to answer due to ignorance of the topic under research,

  • A lengthy questionnaire or the use of highly technical language discourages respondents,

  • If the questionnaire seeks more views from the respondents, they may become concerned about their privacy and may be reluctant to reveal their opinions.

A researcher can enhance the response rate by contacting the respondents regularly by phone, mail, or person. The researcher may need to conduct more visits or write soft reminder letters regularly to persuade respondents to return the full questionnaire. A good response is generated when the questionnaire is brief and easy.

The timing of the distribution is also critical in eliciting reactions. When instructors or students are given the questionnaire over holidays or weekends, the response rate is often greater. Two weeks after the indicated date for returning the questionnaire, a friendly reminder letter with another copy of the questionnaire should be sent. A duplicate copy is necessary since the responder may have misplaced the questionnaire. The researcher should be kind and patient when delivering, reminding, or receiving the questionnaire.


A questionnaire is a piece of paper and a pencil. A self-reporting tool can be used to assess respondents' knowledge, views, attitudes, beliefs, ideas, feelings, and perceptions and acquire factual information. The most popular research tool is the questionnaire, which consists of a set of questions answered by all participants in a sample.

Updated on: 10-Apr-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started