Would you like to add anything? Open-end versus closed-end questions in a mail survey

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One way to combine the advantages of closed- and open-ended questions is to give the respondent an exhaustive list of categories she can choose from as well as the option to answer with the category “other” and to specify in an open-ended format. In many cases these answers can and need to be re-coded in order to prevent bias. Aim of this paper is to investigate whether cognitive aspects or topic interest motivate respondents to use this option and to elaborate on their choice. I use data from the longitudinal German SAVE study which is conducted as a self-administered mail survey. I investigate who uses the open-end option in closed-end questions and whether these respondents display the same pattern for similar questions as well as across time.

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