Survey Questions: Question Types and Answer Types

Complete guide to survey questions that include question types and answer types for the best survey response collection and analysis

Popular Survey Questions and Question Types

What is the single most important factor determining the success of a survey? You got it - it is the survey questions, the question types and respondent answer types that form the cornerstones of all surveys!

Whether it an email survey, SMS survey, web intercept survey or a mobile app survey, the single common denominator that determines how effectively you are able to collect accurate and complete survey responses is your survey questions and their types.

In this article, we will cover some good survey questions , question types and their corresponding answer types that will almost immediately give you a clear understanding of how to construct and choose good survey questions for exponentially increased insights from your responses.

Survey Questions

We suggest that you should also check out: Sample Surveys with Sample Survey Questions and Question Types, to get an even better subject matter expertise.

1. The Dichotomous Survey Question

The dichotomous survey question is generally a "yes/no" question.


Survey Questions - Dichotomous

If you are seeking information only about product users, you may want to ask this type of question to "screen out" those who haven't purchased your products or services. Researchers use "screening" questions to ensure that only those people they are interested in participate in the survey.

You may also want to use dichotomous questions to separate respondents or branch into groups of those who "have purchased" and those who "have not yet purchased" your products or services. Once separated, different questions can be asked of each of these groups.

You may want to ask the "have purchased" group how satisfied they are with your products and services, and you may want to ask the "have not purchased" group what the primary reasons are for not purchasing. In essence, your survey questions branch to become two different sets of questions.

2. The Multiple Choice Survey Questions

The multiple-choice survey questions consists of three or more exhaustive, mutually exclusive categories. Multiple choice questions can ask for single or multiple answers.  In the following example, the respondent will select exactly one answer from the 7 possible options,  exactly 3 of the 7, or as many of the 7 options (1, 2, 3, or up to 7 answers can be selected).


Survey Questions - Multiple Choice

For this type of question, it is important to consider including an "other" category as there may be other avenues by which the person first heard about your site that you might have overlooked.

3. Rank Order Scaling Question

Rank order scaling question allow a certain set of brands or products to be ranked based upon a specific attribute or characteristic. Perhaps we know that Toyota, Honda, Mazda, and Ford are most likely to be purchased. You may request that the options be ranked based upon a particular attribute. Ties may or may not be allowed. If you allow ties, several options will have the same scores.


Survey Questions - Rank Order

4. The Rating Scale Question

A rating scale question requires a person to rate a product or brand along a well-defined, evenly spaced continuum. Rating scales are often used to measure the direction and intensity of attitudes.


Survey Questions - Rating Scale

5. The Semantic Differential Scale Question

The Semantic Differential Scale question asks a person to rate a product, brand, or company based upon a seven-point rating scale that has two bi-polar adjectives at each end. The following is an example of a semantic differential scale question.


Survey Questions - Semantic Differential Scale

Notice that unlike the rating scale, the semantic differential scale does not have a neutral or middle selection. A person must choose, to a certain extent, one or the other adjective.

6. The Staple Scale Question

The staple scale question asks a person to rate a brand, product, or service according to a certain characteristic on a scale from +5 to -5, indicating how well the characteristic describes the product or service.

Survey Questions - Staple Scale

7. Constant Sum Survey Questions

A constant sum survey questions permits collection of "ratio" data, meaning that the data is able to express the relative value or importance of the options (option A is twice as important as option B)


Survey Questions - Constant Sum

This type of question is used when you are relatively sure of the reasons for purchase, or you want input on a limited number of reasons you feel are important. Questions must sum to 100 points and point totals are checked by javascript.

8. The Open-Ended Survey Question

The Open Ended survey question seeks to explore the qualitative, in-depth aspects of a particular topic or issue. It gives a person the chance to respond in detail. Although open-ended questions are important, they are time-consuming and should not be over-used.

(If the respondent indicates they did not find what they were looking for...)

Survey Questions - Open Ended

If you want to add an "Other" answer to a multiple choice question, you would use branching instructions to come to an open ended question to find out What Other....

9. Demographic Survey Questions

Demographic survey questions are an integral part of any survey. They are used to identify characteristics such as age, gender, income, race, geographic place of residence, number of children, and so forth. For example demographic questions will help you to classify the difference between product users and non-users. Perhaps most of your customers come from the Northeast, are between the ages of 50 and 65, and have incomes between $50,000 and $75,000.

Demographic data helps you paint a more accurate picture of the group of persons you are trying to understand. And by better understanding the type of people who use or are likely to use your product, you can allocate promotional resources to reach these people, in a more cost effective manner.

Psycho-graphic or life style questions are also included in the template files. These questions provide an in-depth psychological profile and look at activities, interests and opinions of respondents.

Finally, what are good survey questions ?

It’s a question everyone must wonder - what are considered to be good survey questions? Is it the type of questions or the language of the survey questions that make the biggest difference in increasing survey response rates and getting you the best insights?

For even more simplicity in creating Survey Questions: Check out our 250+ FREE & Ready-made Survey Templates.

  1. Keep your Questions Fair : The most prime point to keep in mind while designing your survey questions is to not be too boastful about your own services and products. Use as few exaggerated adjectives as you can with your services that can make the customers think that you think too highly of your own company, which isn’t the impression you want your customers to have.
    Dodge questions like: “What do you feel about the extremely warm welcome our staff gave at your arrival?” Respondents will prefer being asked questions like, “How did you like your welcome at our hotel?”

  2. Simple Survey Questions = Better Responses : Come up with survey questions that are easy to understand and answer. Expecting respondents to repeatedly answer essay-like questions will do no good for the survey. Instead, ask question that are not complicated to understand and can be answered without investing too much time.

  3. Avoid Unwanted Questions : You may feel the need to get as much information as you can from a single survey but this temptation can create damage. In case you keep asking every single detail, you’ll end up asking survey questions that may seem off track. The user can get suspicious about your intentions apart from getting confused and irritated.

  4. Skip Assumptive Question : Neither do people keep situations in mind that haven’t happened in their lives nor do they appreciate made-up situational survey questions. Avoid cooking up “what if” conditions which will not necessarily get authentic answers from respondents as they may or may not have faced the situation. It will be much effective if you post more realistic situations for them.

  5. Ask Customer Survey Questions with “How” : A single select question like “Did you like our gym” will get you either “yes” or “no”. Instead of the yes or no kind, if you ask “How did you find the services at our gym?” and come up with responses like, “extremely professional,” “moderately professional,” and “not at all professional.” This question will fetch you detailed data giving you a peek into what exactly did the respondents like about your services. Taking corrective measures becomes easier for the management.

  6. Don’t Ask More than One Question at Once : The last thing you want your survey to do is confuse respondents. Asking two or more correlated things in one question will baffle your customers. Also, multiple interlinked things in one question may indicate that they’re unimportant. In case you have a complicated topic in hand, you can divide it into multiple survey questions so that you can get effective answers and great insights.

Additional sensitivities to keep in mind for creating good survey questions:

  1. If you have to ask sensitive questions about religion or political parties, place them next to the questions contextually related to them. This will make it easier for the respondents to at least try answering.

  2. The introductory questions that you ask should be simple, pleasant and interesting.

  3. Including a question mark towards the end of every question can prove to be an effective way to get respondents to finish the survey.

  4. For the respondents to get the right impressions from your survey, make sure all the questions are grammatically correct and error free.

  5. The questions should have understandable terms and concepts broadly known to all.

Please remember - It is the simplicity and direct approach of your survey that will be considered the most influential aspects in getting you the best survey responses through good survey questions.

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