Multiple choice question
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Multiple choice question

A multiple-choice question is characterised by the fact that only one answer can be selected from of a preselect amount of answers.

An example of a multiple-choice question is this one:

In which country do you have your residence?
           0   The Netherlands
           0   Belgium
           0   Luxembourg
           0   France
           0   Spain
           0   Portugal

Multiple choice questions are very useful in surveys. The respondent reads a list of possible answers, and the only thing he has to do is to tick the preferred one. In interviews usually an open question is used. If so, the interviewer could have a list of possible answers, so he can tick the answer of the respondent.

The advantage of a multiple choice question for the respondent is the speed of answering such questions. It is always faster two tick a circle, than writing down an answer. Tests show that in an ordinary research about eight multiple-choice questions can be answered in one minute. Because most people do not like to spend more than five minutes on a questionnaire, maximal 40 multiple-choice questions should be raised. To speed it up even more, the expected most frequently given answers should be on top.

The disadvantage of a multiple choice question is that every possible answer should be mentioned. In the above list, Andorra is not in the list. A respondent who wants to tick this answer encounters problems answering this question. It is a stumbling question for this respondent. Stumbling questions are a severe attack on the motivation of the respondent to continue the survey. It might even be an obstruction if he is obliged to answer such questions. Only by giving an incorrect answer can the respondent continue to answer the questions. A solution can be found by adding an extra alternative in which the respondent can write an answer in a box or on a line.

The advantage of multiple choice questions is firstly the speed of data collection and secondly, the respondents make fewer mistakes, so that time can be saved to check the data. Therefore the research can be done more quickly. Usually the answers are numbered starting with 1 for the first one, 2 for the second and so on. Some providers do not provide the numbered answers, but provide the answer as text. I do not know why. If the answers are in text, the scientist has to code the text into numbers again before he can start analysing the data.

A multiple choice question yields a variable measured at a nominal level.

A final comment is this. For multi choice questions, a circle is used for the answer. In this way, a multiple choice question is distinguished from a multiple answer question using straight brackets.

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