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The selection of question structure is fundamental to the process of questionnaire construction. The open-ended question is one type of structure; the other, more commonly used alternative is the closed-ended question. The open-ended question does not provide answer categories. The person (respondent) who is asked an open-ended question formulates the answer and gives the response in his or her own words. Although this structure gives the respondent more freedom in crafting an answer, it also increases the cognitive effort. Without answer choices as cues to aid in understanding the question and deciding on an answer, the respondent has to perform additional cognitive tasks before he or she responds.

Reasons to Use Open-Ended Questions

All open-ended questions are alike in that the respondent is not given answer choices. ...

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