Self-report Studies


Self-report method in which a series of answers is given in a written format, either by making a choice/ answer (closed question) or an extended answer (open question)

  • + Collect large amount of data quickly from large sample (compared to techniques e.g. interviews)
  • + See what people are thinking e.g. attitudes.
  • + Good reliability = technique is easily repeated/replicated.
  • – Heavily influenced by the motivation level of participant
  • – Social desirability bias = respondents answer Q’s in a way that reflects well on them
  • – Doesn’t reflect thinking – but what people say they think + doesn’t match behaviour

How to write a good questionnaire?

  1. Good questions:
    • Clarity – respondent should understand the Q
    • Unbiased – no leading Q’s, give no suggestion of a preferred answer (which’ll increase social desirability bias)
    • Analysis – questions should be asked in a way that provide useful data for analysis:
      • Qualitative analysis = open questions, can be analysed using content analysis
      • Quantitative analysis = closed questions, scale questions – find trends + patterns
  1. How many questions do I need?
    • Just enough to provide enough useful data for analysis – too many can cause poor responses and responder boredom
    • May need filler questions = hide the aim due to demand characteristics
  2. Order of questions – put more challenging questions later in questionnaires to help to build a rapport
  3. Always run a pilot study – Small scale study before main study to stop methodological problems


A face to face interaction where an interviewer asks set of questions to interviewees about their thoughts/experiences

Structured interviews: made up of pre-determined set of questions that are asked in a fixed order – like a verbal questionnaire

  • + Easy to replicate as standardised format
  • – Interviewee can’t elaborate their points and imposes what the researcher values on the participant

Unstructured interviews: More of a conversation with a general aim that a certain topic will be discussed, and interaction tends to be free-flowing. The interviewee encouraged to expand and elaborate when prompted, with no set questions.

  • + More flexibility as can have follow up questions therefore more insight
  • – Risk of social desirability bias