Quantitative Survey Questions: Definition, Types and Examples

Quantitative survey questions

Quantitative Survey Questions: Definition

Quantitative survey questions are defined as objective questions used to gain detailed insights from respondents about a survey research topic. The answers received for these quantitative survey questions are analyzed and a research report is generated on the basis of this quantitative data. These questions form the core of a survey and are used to gather numerical data to determine statistical results.

The primary stage before conducting an online survey will be to decide the objective of the survey. Every research should have an answer to this integral question: “What are the expected results of your survey?”. Once the answer to this question is figured out, the secondary stage will be deciding the type of required data: quantitative or qualitative data.

Deciding the data type indicates the type of information required from the research process. While qualitative data provides detailed information about the subject, quantitative data will provide effective and precise information.

Quantitative survey questions are thus, channels for collecting quantitative data. Feedback received to quantitative survey questions is related to, measured by or measuring a “quantity” or a statistic and not the “quality” of the parameter.   

Learn more: Survey Questions

Types of Quantitative Survey Questions with Examples

Quantitative survey questions should be such that they offer respondents a medium to answer accurately. On the basis of this factor, quantitative survey questions are divided into three types:

1. Descriptive Survey Questions: Descriptive survey questions are used to gain information about a variable or multiple variables to associate a quantity to the variable.

It is the simplest type of quantitative survey questions and helps researchers in quantifying the variables by surveying a large sample of their target market.

Most widely implemented descriptive questions start with “What is this..”, “How much..”, “What is the percentage of..” and such similar questions. A popular example of a descriptive survey is an exit poll as it contains a question: “What is the percentage of candidate X winning this election?” or in a demographic segmentation survey: “How many people between the age of 18-25 exercise daily?”

Learn more: Demographic Survey Questions

Other examples of descriptive survey questions are:

  • Descriptive Survey Question Example 1: What is the most preferred cuisine of the Mexicans?
    • Variable: Cuisine
    • Target Group: Mexicans
  • Descriptive Survey Question Example 2: What are the facets that transform Indian student thoughts and motivate them to join American Universities?
    • Variable: Facets that transform career decisions
    • Target Group: Indian students
  • Descriptive Survey Question Example 3: How many Chinese citizens choose to leave the country every year for better avenues?
    • Variable: Number of citizens looking for better opportunities
    • Target Group: Chinese citizens

In every example mentioned above, researchers should focus on quantifying the variable. The only factor that changes is the parameter of measurement. Every example mentions a different quantitative sample question which needs to be measured by different parameters.

The answers for descriptive survey questions are definitional for the research topic and they quantify the topics of analysis. Usually, a descriptive research will require a long list of descriptive questions but experimental research or relationship-based research will be effective with a couple of descriptive survey questions.

Learn more: Quantitative Market Research

2. Comparative Survey Questions: Comparative survey questions are used to establish a comparison between two or more groups on the basis of one or more dependable variables. These quantitative survey questions begin with “What is the difference in” [dependable variable] between [two or more groups]?. This question will be enough to realize that the main objective of comparative questions is to form a comparative relationship between the groups under consideration.

Comparative survey question examples:

  • Comparative Survey Question Example 1: What is the difference in cuisine preferences between Mexican adults and children?
    • Dependable Variable: Cuisine preferences
    • Comparison Groups: Mexican adults and children
  • Comparative Survey Question Example 2: What is the difference in factors that motivate Indian and Australian students to join American Universities?
    • Dependable Variable: Factors that transform career decisions
    • Comparison Groups: Indian and Australian students
  • Comparative Survey Question Example 3: What is the difference in political notions between Asian and American citizens?
    • Dependable Variable: Political notions
    • Comparison Groups: Asian and American citizens

The various groups mentioned in the above-mentioned options indicate independent variables (Mexican people or country of students). These independent variables could be based on gender, ethnicity or education. It is the dependable variable that determines the complexity of comparative survey questions.  

3. Relationship Survey Questions: Relationship survey questions are used to understand the association, trends and causal relationship between two or more variables. When discussing research topics, the term relationship/causal survey questions should be carefully used since it is a widely used type of research design, i.e., experimental research – where the cause and effect between two or more variables. These questions start with “What is the relationship” [between or amongst] followed by a string of independent [gender or ethnicity] and dependent variables [career, political beliefs etc.]?

  • Relationship Survey Question Example 1: What is the relationship between age and food preferences in Mexico?
    • Dependent Variable: Food preferences
    • Independent Variable: Age
    • Relationship groups: Mexico
  • Relationship Survey Question Example 2: What is the relationship between family income and university admission with American students?
    • Dependent Variable: University admission
    • Independent Variable: Family income
    • Relationship groups: American students
  • Relationship Survey Question Example 3: What is the relationship between socio-economic class, ethnicity, education and lifestyle in China?
    • Dependent Variable: Lifestyle
    • Independent Variable: Socio-economic class, ethnicity, education
    • Relationship groups: China

Learn more: What is Research?

How to design Quantitative Survey Questions

There are four critical steps to follow while designing quantitative survey questions:

1. Select the type of quantitative survey question: The objective of the research is reflected in the chosen type of quantitative survey question. For the respondents to have a clear understanding of the survey, researchers should select the desired type of quantitative survey question.  

2. Recognize the filtered dependent and independent variables along with the target group/s: Irrespective of the type of selected quantitative survey question (descriptive, comparative or relationship based), researchers should decide on the dependent and independent variables and also the target audiences.

There are four levels of measurement variables – one of which can be chosen for creating quantitative survey questions. Nominal variables indicate the names of variables, Ordinal variables indicate names and order of variables, Interval variables indicate name, order and an established interval between ordered variables and Ratio variables indicate the name, order, an established interval and also an absolute zero value.

A variable can not only be calculated but also can be manipulated and controlled. For descriptive survey questions, there can be multiple variables for which questions can be formed. In the other two types of quantitative survey questions (comparative and relationship-based), dependent and independent variables are to be decided. Independent variables are those which are manipulated in order to observe the change in the dependent variables.

Learn more: Quantitative Observation

3. Choose the right structure according to the decided type of quantitative survey question: As discussed in the previous section, appropriate structures have to be chosen to create quantitative survey questions. The intention of creating these survey questions should align with the structure of the question.

This structure indicates – 1) Variables 2) Groups and 3) Order in which the variables and groups should appear in the question.

4. Note the roadblocks you are trying to solve in order to create a thorough survey question: Analyze the ease of reading these questions once the right structure is in place. Will the respondents be able to easily understand the questions? – Ensure this factor before finalizing the quantitative survey questions.

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