Self ReportsA self report is a method which asks participants to report their own feelings or beliefs about something. For example, it may ask them their opinions on smoking, or how much they remember about a certain event.
Self reports can take the form of interviews or questionnaires.
QuestionnairesA questionnaire is a set of carefully produced questions that are designed to investigate something in particular (eg. attitudes towards war; personalities; memory etc.). It is sometimes called a survey, and is a descriptive method, as it does not try to explain the causes of participantsí responses, it just describes them.
InterviewsAn interview usually takes place face-to-face (but can be conducted online or over the phone) and consists of the researcher asking the participant about the topic under investigation.
Structured InterviewsWhere a researcher has a set of standardised questions and only asks these during the interview, this is known as a structured interview.
Unstructured InterviewsWhere the researcher goes into an open discussion with the participant, with no pre-defined questions, this is known as an unstructured interview.
However, the researcher will still ask questions to prompt the participant.
Types of QuestionsQuestions can take a number of forms (examples are in italics):
Open QuestionsAn open question is one that requires a detailed response with no choices given.
How do you feel about cheese?
Closed QuestionsA closed question is one that gives a number of possible answers which participants choose from, and includes rated questions.
Rated QuestionsRated questions offer a number of answers, each of which has a numerical value so that the participantís responses can be turned into a score at the end.
On psychology exams you may well be asked to describe the use of rated questions, so it is worth taking the opportunity to try them all out in a questionnaire. Normally you would only choose one style of rated question.
You will probably need to use a mixture of closed and rated questions in designing your questionnaire. Open questions are useful but do take a lot longer to analyse and can not be rated in the same way as closed and rated questions.
Therefore, if you were going to investigate whether cheese is more important to males than females, your questionnaire should be designed to provide a score that makes this easy to see: the higher the participantís overall score, the more important they believe cheese to be.