Closed-ended question

A closed-ended question generates a limited set of responses that can be coded easily in a database with some number or symbol that represents a response. Multiple-choice, ordinal, interval, and ratio questions generate closed-ended responses.


This guide will teach you:

  1. Closed-ended question examples
  2. Advantages
  3. Disadvantages

1. Closed-ended question examples

  • Would you like vanilla ice cream?
  • Where did you go to college?
  • What is your best quality?
  • Do you enjoy your car?
  • Does your brother have the same interests as you?
  • Do you like animals?
  • When is your birthday?

Be careful not to turn your closed-ended inquiries into a leading question.

close ended question example

2. Advantages

  • It is easier and quicker for respondents to answer
  • The answers of different respondents are easier to compare
  • Answers are easier to code and statistically analyze
  • The response choices can clarify the inquiry meaning for respondents
  • Respondents are more likely to answer about sensitive topics
  • There are fewer irrelevant or confusing answers 
  • Less articulate or less literate respondents are not at a disadvantage
  • Replication is easier

3. Disadvantages

  • They can suggest ideas that the respondent would not otherwise have
  • Respondents with no opinion or no knowledge can answer any way
  • Respondents can be frustrated because their desired answer is not a choice
  • It is confusing if many response choices are offered
  • Misinterpretation of an inquiry can go unnoticed
  • Distinctions between respondent answers may be blurred
  • Clerical mistakes or marking the wrong response is possible
  • They force respondents to give simplistic responses to complex issues
  • They force people to make choices they would not make in the real world

Check out the entire glossary list in a printable list.

What's next?

  • Ranking question: This allows survey respondents to compare different items to each other by placing them in order of how they score (or rank) at a specific aspect, such as design, cost, functionality, importance. Often with the most important or preferred item ranked first or on top of the list.
  • Smiley rating question: a rating question, most often used to get a clear view of how someone likes your product, service, or business. The smiley question is a 5-point rating scale intended to represent a range of sentiments from negative to neutral to positive, making smiley ratings most useful when measuring emotions or feelings.
  • Survey bias means that the inquiry is phrased or formatted in a way that leads people to choose a certain answer instead of another. The same applies if your inquiries are hard to understand, making it difficult for customers to answer honestly.
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