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Avoid Yes / No Questions

Yes / No questions lead to Yes / No answers; answers that are short, with virtually no rich description. This will leave the interviewer with limited information to work with when it comes to data analysis.

Example: Yes/No Questions

Interviewer: Was your marriage like your parents'? Was it in the same tradition?


Interviewer: Do you think your daughter's marriage will be the same as yours?

Thava (husband): We hope.

Jothi (wife): We hope and pray.

Interviewer: Is your married life the same here as it would be back at home?


Interviewer: Have you changed in any ways since coming here?


Tamil Interview #2

These Yes/No questions can be rephrased as follows so that the respondents are more likely to answer them with detailed descriptions. Note also that the interviewer should ask only one question at a time.


Even these questions are too broad for the respondent to answer effectively. The interviewer should focus on specific aspects of married life, such as how everyday housework was carried out, who did what, on what terms, how the couple made decisions, etc.

An alternative

Interviewer: Now I would like to ask a few questions about your married life back in Sri Lanka. First, can you tell me how you divided the daily work?

Example: More Yes/No Questions

Interviewer: Did you know each other before you got married?

Franca: No.

Carmelo: Yes. Well, we were from the same town.

Italian Interview #4


This "yes/no" question received contradictory answers from the wife and husband. Perhaps they have different interpretations of what it means to "know each other."

The question could be rephrased: "How well did you know each other before you got married?"

After allowing them both sufficient time to respond, the interviewer could follow up with more questions to clarify any contradictions in their responses.

Exercise: No more Yes / No questions

Comment on the following excerpt. How could the questions be phrased differently?

Interviewer: Would your parents have helped your family out financially?

Bob: Yes.

Interviewer: Did your parents have a role in taking care of their parents? Were things different then and now?

Bob: Yes, my mother took care of her mother.

Interviewer: Do grandparents live separately from the family?

Bob: Yes, but when they get very old sometimes if it's long distance, you bring them in the house until they die. Because of their experience and wisdom, you listen to them, basically that's how it used to be... Shame on anybody that walks out on their parents.

Interviewer: Your in-laws do they live nearby?

Bob: No.

Caribbean Interview # 1

«The Use of Negative Cases and Unexpected Findings Avoid ”Multiple-choice“ and Double-barreled Questions»