Balancing Qualitative And Quantitative Questions In Surveys

Blocksurvey blog author
Jan 23, 2024 · 4 mins read

Are you responsible for running surveys for your organization? Do you want to run a survey for a research study? Do you need more clarity on when to use Qualitative and Quantitative questions in your surveys?

This blog introduces you to various vocabularies and ideas belonging to Qualitative and Quantitative questions. You will be able to think cohesively and strike out the right balance of questions when you finish reading this article.

All right. Grab a cup of coffee. Let’s start.

Both Qualitative and Quantitative questions are highly instrumental in ensuring the success of a survey. First, let's delve into understanding what qualitative and quantitative questions are actually.

1. Qualitative Questions

Qualitative questions delve into “why” and “how”. These questions offer deeper insights. The respondents get a chance to express their ideas in their own words.

Qualitative questions are Open-ended questions.

Pros

  • Uncover complex opinions and emotions.
  • Respondents can express themselves freely.

Cons

  • Responses are more challenging to categorize.
  • Requires more time for analysts to interpret.

Examples

  • Can you describe your experience with our product/service in your own words?
  • How would you describe the challenges you face in your current role?

Moving on to discuss Quantitative questions.

2. Quantitative Questions

On the other hand, Quantitative questions are the backbone of data-driven decision-making. They collect measurable and numeric data. The respondents tend to select from a pre-defined set of answers.

Quantitative questions are Closed-ended questions.

Pros

  • Provides concrete data that is easy to analyze.
  • Large sample sizes can be managed effectively.

Cons

  • Might miss nuances of the respondent’s experience.
  • Respondents are bound to pre-defined answers.

Examples

  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how satisfied are you with our product/service?
  • How frequently do you use our product/service? (options: Never, Daily, Weekly, Monthly)

Let’s now find out when to use Open-ended and Closed questions.

3. Open-ended vs. Close-ended questions

Open-ended questions are usually Quantitative and close-ended questions are usually Qualitative. As a survey creator, you should know when you want to switch from open-ended questions to close-ended questions and vice versa.

Look at your open-ended or close-ended questions and ask yourself why you are using them.

Let’s take an example of an open-ended question you asked, “What do you think of Adidas shoes?”. For this question, people would love to give feedback in their own words, and most times, you will get creative and out-of-the-box answers.

If that is not the kind of feedback you are looking for, you should consider using a close-ended question like, “What do you think of our Adidas shoe prices relative to our competitors? ” This question can have the following pre-defined answers that respondents can choose from.

  • Higher
  • About the same
  • Lower

This kind of question will give your survey respondents clarity, and in turn, it will provide you with consistent data that is easy to analyze.

So, always question yourself why you are using open-ended or closed-ended before zeroing in on a particular question.

Next, let’s move on to finding out the power of pairing quantitative and qualitative questions.

4. Power of Pairing

Hybrid questions pair both Qualitative and Quantitative questions. Hybrid questions provide a middle ground, combining the strengths of both Qualitative and Quantitative questions.

For example, ask a respondent to rate their satisfaction on a 1-10 scale (Quantitative). Immediately follow up with a prompt (Qualitative) like, “Why did you give that rating?”. When you pair a Quantitative rating and a Qualitative explanation, you gain a deeper understanding. You get a clear picture of the respondent’s perspective.

A ‘5’ rating on its own tells you something; knowing the reason behind the rating adds a layer of depth.

When you separate qualitative and quantitative queries, you cannot capture a holistic response. On the other hand, hybrid (combining Qualitative and Quantitative) questions capture a more holistic view in one go. This also makes sure your surveys are more concise and thus improves the completion rates.

Now, let us discuss how to strike the right balance between Qualitative and Quantitative questions in a survey.

5. Striking the right balance

5.1. Purpose of survey

Start by understanding the purpose of your survey.

Does your survey measure something specific or explore an idea?

If your survey measures something specific, have more quantitative questions.

If your survey aims to explore an idea, have more qualitative questions.

5.2. Question Sequencing

To receive a strong foundation for your survey, start with quantitative questions that give you numbers. This can be followed with qualitative questions to explore deeper into the reason behind numbers. This approach enriches your survey, giving it depth and valuable insights.

However, there are other lines of thought that suggest starting surveys with qualitative questions first and then moving on to quantitative questions. This will make the survey more receptive to respondents’ ideas.

Therefore choose the question sequencing that you think is the best for your case.

5.3. Exploratory / Confirmatory

The balance between qualitative and quantitative should align with the type of survey.

Exploratory surveys might lean towards more qualitative questions, whereas Confirmatory surveys might lean towards more quantitative questions.

Therefore, get yourself accustomed to recognizing the nature of your survey. This should help you attain the right balance.

5.4. Test your survey

Test your survey on a small group of people.

This Pilot testing is to ensure questions are clear and the balance between qualitative and quantitative questions feels right.

Based on the feedback from your testing, you can adjust the number of qualitative and quantitative accordingly.

5.5. Analysis Integration

While analyzing the result of your survey, make sure to consider responses from both qualitative and quantitative questions for analysis.

This holistic approach will give you better insights and ensure your survey's purpose is attained. So, do not ignore either if you need better results.

Next, let’s move on to discuss certain use cases where we can use Qualitative or Quantitative questions.

6. Use Cases

The decision to use Qualitative or Quantitative depends entirely on the purpose of the survey and the type of feedback to collect.

However, there are few general use cases where one is preferred over another. Below are a few use cases that fit rightly into either Qualitative or Quantitative type.

6.1. Data Validation

Quantitative surveys help you get the numbers with which you can discover whether your hypothesis is correct or not.

For example, if I genuinely feel that students in a particular college prefer Adidas shoes over Nike shoes, I need to run a quantitative survey to discover if my hunch was right.

Quantitative surveys are apt for this kind of data validation survey.

6.2. Quick Response

Quantitative surveys help you get quick responses.

For example, a question like “Do you like Adidas Shoes?” is easier to answer than “What do you feel could be improved about Adidas Shoes?”.

In this case, qualitative questions require some thinking and time, which may lead to respondent fatigue.

It is best to stick to Quantitative surveys to receive quicker responses and better completion rates.

6.3. Human Perspective

Obtaining a human perspective is a key use case where qualitative questions become unquestionably important.

The opinions you collect using qualitative questions are the only way to understand what people think about your product/service.

It helps you get honest and unbiased feedback. It also helps you get out-of-the-box and creative responses. Qualitative questions are the right fit if you need real humane responses.

7. BlockSurvey Question Types

BlockSurvey provides you with an exhaustive list of question types that can help you capture Quantitative and Qualitative data.

7.1. Quantitative Question Types

You can find a wide variety of question types from BlockSurvey that can capture Quantitative data.

  • Radio Buttons: This is a question type that you should use when you want your respondent to select just one option from your list of all possible choices.
  • Check Boxes: Check Boxes are similar to radio buttons, but checkboxes provide the flexibility to select more than one option from your list of choices.
  • Drop-downs: Drop-downs are another great way for your respondents to select answers. BlockSurvey supports drop-downs with both single selection and multiple selection.
  • Ranking questions: This question type is a fun and interactive way to engage the respondents. The respondents get a chance to rank answers with drag and drop.

Ranking, Sliders, and NPS are a few other quantitative question types often used in surveys.

7.2. Qualitative Question Types

The type of question types you can use to get qualitative data is a bit limited, but you can receive a lot of creative responses with the available question types.

  • “Other” Box: This is an added option included with the radio box that lets respondent select ‘Other’ and provide the most expressive answer in their own words.
  • Short Text: This is a short text field where the respondents can write a few words or a single sentence about their experience. Short Texts are apt for receiving people's names.
  • Long Text: Long text is similar to short text but has room for respondents to provide more detailed answers in their own words. This is helpful for receiving creative, expressive, and more humane responses.

Test your knowledge on Quantitative and Qualitative Questions

Concluding with a better grasp

As we finally conclude this article, I hope you have a better grasp of qualitative and quantitative question types. I also discussed when to use open-ended and closed questions in a survey. And also how to use hybrid questions to achieve better results.

You learned how to strike the right balance between qualitative and quantitative questions. We saw a few use cases and, finally, question types offered by BlockSurvey for qualitative and quantitative questions.

Remember, the key to a better survey is not to favor Qualitative over Quantitative or vice versa. It is about striking the right balance, and that will make all the difference.

Start using BlockSurvey.

Happy Surveying!!

Balancing Qualitative And Quantitative Questions In Surveys FAQ

What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative questions in surveys?

Qualitative questions aim to gather descriptive data, often open-ended, and provide insights into the respondent's thoughts and feelings. Quantitative questions, on the other hand, gather measurable data that can be statistically analyzed, typically multiple-choice or scale-based questions.

How can I balance qualitative and quantitative questions in a survey?

Balancing qualitative and quantitative questions depends on your research goals. Generally, start with quantitative questions to gather objective data, followed by qualitative questions for deeper insights. The ratio can vary based on the depth of information required.

Why is it important to balance qualitative and quantitative questions in a survey?

Balancing these questions allows researchers to gather a broad spectrum of data, from statistics and trends (quantitative) to personal insights and experiences (qualitative). This combination can result in more comprehensive and reliable findings.

Can I use more of one type of question in my survey?

Yes, the mix of qualitative and quantitative questions in your survey should align with your research goals. If you need more measurable data, use more quantitative questions, and vice versa.

Can the balance of qualitative and quantitative questions affect the survey responses?

Yes, too many qualitative questions may overwhelm respondents with typing, while too many quantitative questions may fail to capture the depth of their views. A balance allows for a comprehensive understanding

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blog author description

Sarath Shyamson

Sarath Shyamson is the customer success person at BlockSurvey and also heads the outreach. He enjoys volunteering for the church choir and loves spending time with his two year old son.

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