• Practical advantages - cheap and quick, can gather large amounts of information from a large sample.
  • Reliable - identical questionnaires can be used to repeat the study, lack of researcher influence on participants.
  • Hypothesis testing - attractive to positivists. can establish a cause and effect relationship between variables.
  • Detachment and objectivity - unbiased method of data collection
  • Representativeness - as they can be sent to large samples, it is more likely that data collected represents the general population.
  • Ethical issues - very few ethical issues. ensure anonymity and privacy.


  • Practical disadvantages - data collected tends to be limited in detail, unsure if correct individual has completed the questionnaire, added cost if incentives are used
  • Low response rate - no pressure to respond due to detachment, many people may not complete the questionnaire. Biased data as some groups may be over-represented in response.
  • Inflexibility - rigid method, cannot change questions to suit individuals
  • Failure to provide a full, valid image of society
  • Right answerism and lying - many participants will give answers they think are acceptable rather than true, lie or misunderstand the question.
  • Imposing the researcher’s meanings - the researcher has already decided what is important by asking specific questions.


Questionnaires have both advantages and disadvantages. Positivists favour them as they are reliable and objective, but findings may be unrepresentative. Interpretivists say they lack validity and do not show a true image of society. 


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