Revisiting "yes/no" versus "check all that apply": Results from a mixed modes experiment

Gerry Nicolaas, Pamela Campanelli, Steven Hope, Annette Jäckle, Peter Lynn


The work of Smyth, Dillman, Christian, and Stern (2006) and Smyth, Christian, and Dillman (2008) compares “yes/no” questions to “check all that apply” questions. They conclude that the “yes/no” format is preferable as it reflects deeper processing of survey questions. Smyth et al. (2008) found that the “yes/no” format performed similarly across telephone and web modes. In this paper we replicate their research and extend it by including a comparison with face-to-face in addition to telephone and web and by using probability samples of the general adult population. A cognitive interviewing follow-up was used to explore the quantitative findings. Our results suggest there are times when the “yes/no” format may not perform similarly across modes and that there may be factors which limit the quality of answers.


survey methods, mode of data collection, questionnaire design, check all that apply, forced choice

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2015 Survey Research Methods

Hosted by the Library of the University of Konstanz