Factual or personal or classification questions at the end

As Oppenheim (1992) concludes, novice researchers typically start to design a questionnaire by putting a rather forbidding set of questions at the top of a blank sheet of paper, asking for name, address, marital status, number of children, religion, and so on. These personal/classification questions tend to be very off-putting: Having been through the various introductory phases, respondents are now ready to look at some interesting questions dealing with the topic of the study. Instead, they are faced with a set of 'personal' questions not unlike those contained in the many bureaucratic forms we have to fill in when, for example, applying for a passport or registering in a hotel. This can result in a kind of anticlimax in the respondents and it may be difficult to rekindle their enthusiasm again. Thus, such personal questions are best left at the end of the questionnaire.

There is also a second reason why factual questions should not be introduced too early, and this concerns their sensitive nature. As discussed in Section 2.1.3, in many cultures issues like age, level of education, or marital status are personal and private matters, and if we ask them near the beginning of the questionnaire they might create some resistance in the respondents ("What business of yours is this...?"), or, in cases where respondents are asked to provide their name, this might remind them of the non-anonymous nature of the survey, which in turn may inhibit some of their answers.

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  • travis
    What are personal factual questions?
    8 years ago
  • wilma
    What are personal classification questions on a questionnaire?
    8 years ago

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