Survey Questionnaire Design: Checklist for Factual (Behavioral) Questions

Whether you are designing an Online, Paper, Kiosk or Mobile Survey, this checklist of question development tips will help you to build the best survey questionnaire for your study.

1. Use words and language that is simple and direct.

2. Ask only one question at a time.

3. If the question causes emotional discomfort, reword the question to soften the emotional response.

4. If a question has a socially preferred answer or set of answers, reword the question to give all responses equal weight.

5. For closed questions about behavior, ensure all reasonable answers are included.  Omitted answers and those lumped into other are likely to be underreported.

6. Make the question as specific as possible in relation to the research objectives.

7. Make the question as specific as possible in terms of When, Where, and How.

8. Use precise periods of time rather than asking about typical behavior.

9. Relate any time period to the importance of the topic 

  • Year for highly important topics (house purchase, birth, serious accident)
  • Month or week for low importance (household purchases)
  • Not too short (can lead to over reporting)

10. Add memory cues to increase accuracy of reporting, even if it lengthens the question.

11. Ask questions of the respondents as they will give more accurate responses when recalling information about themselves rather than for others. 

These are general guidelines to follow on factual and behavioral question development.   If you select a survey software solution, there are thousands of pre-written and topic specific questions to choose from.  See what Snap Surveys has to offer for survey software solutions.

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