Self Reports


Psychology 9990

Self Reports

Self Reports


This segment of the research refers to how the participant provides/dispenses information about themselves to the researcher directly. It is important to distinguish this from other information data colleecting methods such as experiments or observations – with the distinguishing factor being that of; informed consent where the participant knows he’s in a study. Self-report measureses usually consist of 2 techniques, questionnaires and interviews, both of which include an inquiry viaasking questions. 


In a questionnare, the questions are presented to the participant in a written form either online or on paper. While there are serveral different types of questions – the two most significant are closed questions which are close-ended i.e they have a fixed and predetermined response set such as “Yes/No”, and then there are open-ended questions which ask for descriptive, qualitative responses that are individual to the participant themselves. 

Close Quessionares take on the form of simple choices such as “YES/NO” or ones that are specific to a sectoor of information. Such as; “What is your gender: Male/Female” and etc.

Open Questionnares are for the participant to give promts which detail information with descriptions and evaluations. They naturally contain more in-depth quality to them (categorizing them as qualitiative data) which aid in exploring and navigating different dimesions of of the reasons behind a particular behaviour, cognition, reasoning or emotion. The keywords consist of “Why..” or “Describe..”.

Rating Scales in Questionnares: One of the most widely used rating scale is the psychometric measurement tool known as Likert Scale. It is a closed questionnare which is usually used to assess and quantify variables such as attitude, frequency, quality, importance, agreement/disagreement, likelihood, severity and etc in terms of differing factors. The participants are asked to respond on a numbered scale (eg. 1-5) with 1 being the weakest at the range and 5 being the strongest in the range. The scores on this scale is indicative of how strongly a participant feels about something, therefore giving us more insignt into the matter.  Furthermore, the data type is quantitative which is easier to assess statistically and thus improves the chances of managing, organizing and categorizing data related to the study. It is however worth mentioning that the participants often opt for neutrality in situations like these which may hinder the researching processes. 

  • Quick and easy for experiments. 
  • Provides quantitative data, easier to analysize and organize data.
  • It is easier to summarize and distribute data.
  • When the patient’s privacy (anonymity) is respcted then this also reduces social desirability bias which thus – increases validity.
  • It is replicable.
  • Participants may respond to demand characteristics. 
  • This threatens validity. 
  • The data it provides is quantitative and not in depth which may make them vague. 
  • It gives a limited perspective of research, seeing as the options are pre-written for the participants to choose from. 


A study by Laney et al. which tested “False Memories” this study used the Likert scale on the ‘Restaurant questionnare’ which promted particpants to rate it on a 1-8 scale for 24 items in terms of ‘Loving asparagus the first time you tried it’ and then on the ‘Food History Inventory’ which prompted participants to similarily rate it on a 1-8 scale in terms of ‘likeliness’.

A Study conducted by Bandura et al. which tested the ‘social learning theory’ – the children’s behaviour was rated on a scale of 1-5 in terms of ‘aggression’ to the various groups the children were divided into. 


The format that an interview typically follows is that the interviewer/researcher is face-to-face with the interviewee/participant. Interviews can be conducted through any medium that allows for the reception of audio and video simultaneously. A question and answer session is followed and responses are noted. Interviews are generally more open and allow for more collection of qualitative data. There are however, different types/formats of interviews.

Structured Interview
Unstructured Interview
Semi-structured Interview
  • The questions asked are common among all participants with the order of them being fixed. 
  • There may even be specific instructions for the researcher i.e body language (relaxed or strict), dress code and overall demeanor – depending on the kind of response they might want to prompt.
  • Verbal questionnaire – the questions are standardized.
  • The questions are not in a pre-determined format. They are flexible according to what the participant says and thus questions may be different for each participant. It however may be hard to collect and categorize data and consequently harder to compare.
  • It has no limitations, no standardization. 
  • This contains a mix of fixed questions and improvisational ones. 
  • This warrants that data can be compared via fixed questions and also that to gather more clarity about a certain topic an improve question there too.
  • Edits are thus possible and this allows the researcher to develop ideas that explore perhaps underlying issues and latent hints to making correlations or causal relationships.

Advantages of Self-reports

  • Participants are given the chance to express a wide range of feelings, thoughts and then explain them.
  • The data is rich, detailed – qualitative data (when unstructured methods are used)
  • The data is numeric, easier to analyse and statistically relevant – quantitative data(when close-ended, stuctured methods are used)
  • A large sample can be dealt with quickly and efficeintly which may increase represenativesness and generalizability. 
  • They are easy to replicate. 

Disadvantages of Self-reports

  • Closed questions often limit the range of expression of a participant which may miss out vital information. 
  • Participants may provide socially desriable responses (demand characteristics may surface) if they are aware of the objective of the research. 
  • There are high chances of validity being low as a limited range of response set might not reflect a participant’s actual viewpoint and they may be compelled to answer differently. 
  • Researcher have to choose carefully when asking questions, especially leading ones. 
  • Open-ended questions can be time-consuming to analyse
  • Withdrawl is quite common, especially in the cases of telephonic interviews. 

They are less objective and thus difficult to standardize.
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