Dichotomous questions belong to a family of close-ended questions. These questions provide only two possible answer options, presented in survey forms with either true/false, agree/disagree, and yes or no answers. When planning survey questions, there would be times when direct answers are required quickly. This is where dichotomous questions come to play.

Here is an in-depth look at dichotomous, its applications, pros and cons, and some relevant examples.

What is a Dichotomous Question?

By definition, dichotomy refers to something having two parts. In the same vein, dichotomous quotations have two responses. The most prominent reactions to dichotomous questions are the yes or no answers.

Dichotomous questions refer to close-ended questions that can only be responded to by two possible answers.

The answers to dichotomous questions are either: Yes/No, Fair/Unfair, or Agree/Disagree.

Read: 21 Best Type of Questions for Student & School Exams

Dichotomous questions do not give room for ambiguity, and answers are usually direct and clear to everyone on which side the individual responding belongs. Dichotomous questions are also used to distinguish between the opinions of two or more people and are often found in questionnaires or surveys.

Difference between Dichotomous and Multiple-Choice Questions

Dichotomous questions are closed-ended questions that do not allow for further explanations. The responses are clear-cut. For example: Have you visited the mall before? Answer: Yes or No.

On the other hand, multiple questions are open-ended or close-ended questions that require a participant to choose a response from a wide range of predetermined options.

For example: What is your favorite color?

a)Blue, b)pink, c)yellow, d) all of the above.

Read: 4 Types of Questionnaire + Free Question Examples

Examples of Dichotomous Questions 

1. HR: A dichotomous question can explain why an employee leaves during an employee exit interview. For example: Would you work in this organization again if things improve? Yes/No

The direct response style of this kind of question would show clearly, that an employee is not pleased with the workplace for whatever reasons.

2. Marketing Research: Dichotomous questions can help marketers gather the correct information about their target audience and provide insight.

Examples of dichotomous questions for this niche are:

  • Are you interested in XYZ products? Yes/No
  • Would you be interested in purchasing software that can spin content? Yes/No.

Targeted marketing questions can help marketers find answers that would amplify marketing efforts.

  • Who are the ideal customers? 
  • What locations are best suited to market a particular product? 
  • What would make customers choose your brand over your competitors and other related questions?

3. Education: During educational surveys, dichotomous questions can be pretty helpful. It can help collate feedback from pupils on their satisfaction and review their tutor’s performance. It can also be used to ascertain if learning occurred after a class.

  • For example, at the end of these sessions, students can now troubleshoot a website for vulnerability with minimum supervision.True/False
  • The response to the example above would provide critical insight to see if the teachers achieved the learning goals or objectives.

4. Event Management: Event surveys are vital in event planning and management, and dichotomous questions are essential to letting organizers understand areas of strength and areas where further improvement would be appreciated.

In scenarios like this, you could employ dichotomous questions and assess first-time attendees and returning clients to get more knowledgeable feedback.

Questions like;

  • Have you visited this event before?Yes/No
  • This event addressed all the concerns raised in the awareness campaign?

Read: Forced Choice Question: Meaning, Scale + [Survey Examples]

Advantages of Dichotomous Questions

We have defined dichotomous questions and provided some examples. However, it is essential to understand the benefits and disadvantages of adopting dichotomous questions to ensure maximum results.

Let’s take a look at the 5 advantages of Dichotomous questions.

  1. It is fast and eliminates the ambiguity in its answers
  2. It is ideal for reporting facts as they are only two possible responses for analysis and report.
  3. It enriches the survey experience of participants by simplifying and making it easy to complete
  4. It serves as a sales funnel and filters out users who would not be relevant to the aim of the targeted marketing activity.
  5. It is straightforward, and this allows ease in analyzing information collected.

Read: 11 Types of Multiple Choice Question +[Examples]

Disadvantages of Dichotomous Questions

Here are 5 disadvantages of dichotomous questions

  1. This can adversely impact the reliability of the data collected. This is so because participants who are not subject matter experts can answer the survey questions without giving a second thought to whether they are qualified to provide accurate responses.
  2. It can put ideas in the participant’s mind as limited answer options are already provided. Most times, dichotomous questions and answers are not a true reflection of the audience’s thoughts and can cause survey bias.
  3. It limits the kind of analysis that can be achieved, as only two possible outcomes are guaranteed.
  4. It does not allow for any iota of emotional preference or sensitivity. Participants sometimes just choose a response without giving any thought to it.
  5. It encourages limited responses to questions asked and sometimes may not have the option of the answers participants would have preferred.

How to Use Dichotomous Questions

Dichotomous questions are helpful in surveys generally. They are also effective in getting feedback about a product and can be used in distinguishing between first-time users, returning buyers, and clients who have never purchased a product. It can also identify a buyer persona who fits your target audience closely.

However, there are 2 major ways to employ the use of the dichotomous question.

1. Survey Screening: This is an ideal way to use dichotomous questions. At the beginning of a survey, it can filter and help you identify the most relevant participant for your survey effort. This, in turn, would amplify your data quality and ultimately impact your result positively.

2. Clarity: If the aim is clarity, adopt dichotomy, as they are an excellent way to get clear insight on a range of topics. For instance, if the focus is an educational survey, you can tell outrightly if a participant has undergone this kind of training through the yes/no answer options. The same applies to product surveys.

When to Use Dichotomous Questions

Dichotomous questions can to used to simplify Instances that require the use of dichotomous survey questions, including the following;

1. Customer Satisfaction: To gauge customer satisfaction after interacting with your web or mobile app.

In a nutshell, it can be used to measure customer experience across all touchpoints of interaction with your brand during the customer service journey.

2. Health Care Survey: To conduct health care surveys and check if a patient is pleased with a service. It can also be used to retrieve patients’ medical history, as there is no middle ground for such instances; clarity is essential here to a successful diagnosis and treatment. For example,

  • Is this your first pregnancy? yes/no
  • Do you have any history of high blood pressure? Yes/no
  • Do you have any account of multiple births in your family?  Yes /No.

3. Training Evaluation: At the end of employee training or any other kind of training, dichotomous questions can be used to conduct the first-level evaluation of the activity undertaken. This would provide insightful feedback and ensure an improvement in the overall training subsequently. So it can;

4. Marketing Reach: Dichotomous questions can generate reports on marketing activities and measure investment return. For example, if a marketing campaign is conducted via social media channels like Twitter/Instagram and targets specific demography of users. Questions like this would help marketers identify the effectiveness of their efforts and provide clarity on how much they were able to reach their target audience.

Explore: 33 Best Market Research Question Examples

  • What gender do you identify with? Male/Female
  • Have you heard about this product? (Yes/No)
  • How did you hear about this brand?Twitter/Instagram 
  • Did you see our marketing campaign promoting this service? Yes/No
  • Did this campaign influence you to check out our online store? Yes/ No etc.

5. Personality Assessments: Dichotomous questions are part of the group of questions used for personality assessment tests by HR professionals. For example, When you work in a room, you are most likely to say hello to everyone with a smile? Answer Agree/Disagree

Explore: How to Create Personality Quizzes using Forms (+ 20 Examples for Quiz Builders)

These kinds of questions are aimed at understanding the employee’s temperament, as this would help HR managers pair the right mix of people in a team to help meet organizational goals.


Dichotomous questions provide clarity on the next steps. However, there are several factors to consider when adopting this form of a question. Hence it is essential to understand the aim or goal of any research, as this would ensure that your responses are valuable and can help you achieve optimal results.

When applied to the correct scenario, Dichotomous questions can provide straightforward answers that give valuable insights into participants’ opinions, perceptions, and experiences.

Overall dichotomous questions are easy on survey participants, as it helps them choose the best answers without going through a long list of unrelated information. It is an easy way to garner data from participants, as they are more responsive to a dichotomous approach in questioning.

  • Angela Kayode-Sanni
  • on 7 min read


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