Qualitative methods are different to quantitative methods in that the data collected is more detailed and extensive about a certain individual and can not simply make use of numerical data. There are many different types of qualitative methods used to collect data, but in this essay the focus will be on questionnaires as a form of qualitative research. Questionnaires are one of the most popular methods used by psychology researchers simply because they are a good way to gain information and form relationships between the different variables or factors. Questionnaires are extremely familiar to almost everyone and have been used for many years. An early example of a questionnaire, which was used to investigate type A personality, was used by Friedman and Rosenman in 1974. Questionnaires can be used to research a large array of topics and answer all sorts of questions. They are seen to be a cheap way of collecting a substantial amount of data. A few advantages of questionnaires include reaching a large group of participants cheaply and effectively thanks to the use of the internet and that conclusions can be drawn relatively quickly. Some disadvantages include the wrong questions being asked, misunderstanding within participants and a lack of honesty when answering questions. There are two main types of questions that are asked in any questionnaire and those include closed questions and open questions. Closed questions offer a choice of answers that are predetermined by the researcher, which are easy to answer but also limit the participants answering abilities. Open questions have no predetermined answers and allow participants to answer freely, which would take more time than closed questions but would allow for more in-depth answers to be obtained. When designing a questionnaire, researchers can make use of two response options. These include likert scales and semantic differential scales. The Likert scale was developed in 1932, and is most commonly used in questionnaires. This type of scale is used to show the levels of agreement, frequency, importance and likelihood . There are normally five or seven points on the scale and the use of odd numbers is important to note as respondents are able to show neutrality. Some researchers may remove the neutral option, making the scale have an even number of points. The other response option is the semantic differential scale, which measure the connotative meaning of various objects and ideas. This scale uses adjectives at each end that are opposite with one to seven blanks in between. Respondents then fill in the blank relative to their answer. The construction of questions in a questionnaire is extremely important. The questions should never be too long or complicated, should always be easy to understand and interpret by the respondents and should not contain multiple parts or both a positive and a negative element. Questions shouldn’t be double barrelled or concern more than one topic and shouldn’t require more than one answer. Questions shouldn’t force respondents to a certain answer and shouldn’t rely on the respondents’ emotions to get certain answers. The construction of responses in a questionnaire is equally important and should be thoroughly thought out to minimise any difficulties for the respondents. When making use of response options, there should be sufficient option for everybody to be able to answer the question. There shouldn’t be any overlaps in the response options given and should be mutually exclusive. Responses also shouldn’t leave any room for bias and should have clear answering instructions. In order for questionnaires to be answered by various respondents, sampling needs to take place. There are four main types of sampling, which include simple random sampling, systematic sampling, stratified random sampling as well as cluster sampling. These are all widely used by psychology researchers.It is clear that questionnaires are widely used for research in psychology and that there are certain guidelines for a questionnaire to be the most efficient. The different components of a questionnaire need to be constructed properly in order for the questionnaire to be useful in research. It is also clear that in-depth answers can be contracted from this form of research.
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