Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Public Opinion Quarterly 72:1 (2008), pp. 103–113.

doi: 10.1093/poq/nfn005


Copyright © 2008 Jolene D. Smyth, Leah Melani Christian, and Don A. Dillman. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Association for Public Opinion Research. Used by permission.


Recent experimental research has shown that respondents to forced-choice questions endorse significantly more options than respondents to check-all questions. This research has challenged the common assumption that these two question formats can be used interchangeably but has been limited to comparisons within a single survey mode. In this paper we use data from a 2004 random sample survey of university students to compare the forced-choice and check-all question formats across web self-administered and telephone interviewer-administered surveys as they are commonly used in survey practice. We find that the within-mode question format effects revealed by previous research and reaffirmed in the current study appear to persist across modes as well; the telephone forced-choice format produces higher endorsement than the web check-all format. These results provide further support for the argument that the check-all and forced-choice question formats do not produce comparable results and are not interchangeable formats. Additional comparisons show that the forced-choice format performs similarly across telephone and web modes.