Free Description, Questionnaires, and Rating Scales
This chapter gives an overview of some analysis techniques for the open-ended tasks of free descriptions and questionnaires, as well as for the more constrained rating scales.
On many occasions, the experimenter wishes to get a less constrained answer from participants-perhaps because the exact response categories will be determined from the free descriptions themselves, or because the experimental question necessitates this approach. Whereas free-description experiments are comparatively easy to design (a typical instruction could be to write down, what you think about this painting in no more than three sentences?) and to run, analysis of the results is difficult, as the responses need to be coded into specific categories first. Obviously, in most cases, this recoding cannot be done automatically and requires human interpretation skills, thus introducing a subjective element into the process.