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What is a matrix question?

What is a grid question?

A matrix question is a group of multiple-choice questions displayed in a grid of rows and columns. The rows present the questions and the columns offer a set of pre-defined answer choices that apply to each question in the row. Typically, the response options are presented as a scale (single choice, radio buttons), but can also be presented as multi-select options (checkboxes).

example multi-select matrix question:

When to use Matrix Questions

Matrix questions are best utilized as an efficient way to ask several questions about a similar concept (also known as a survey dimension) when the response options are identical for each question.

Advantages of matrix questions

While there are many advantages to matrix questions such as:

  • Less respondent burden: Respondents can more swiftly select from a list of pre-existing response options. This reduces survey response time considerably for a battery of similar questions.
  • Takes up less ‘real estate’ in a survey: Since the questions and the answers are next to each other in matrix format, they take very little space. Matrix questions can cover a lot of metrics and while reducing survey fatigue (improving response rate).

Limitations of matrix questions

  • Due to the format, the attributes being rated (columns) should be as short as possible so the matrix can be fully displayed.
  • Matrix questions should be limited to 11 or fewer attributes (rows) and 6 or fewer rating options (columns) especially respondents using mobile devices.

If a matrix question offers too many response options or too many attributes, it is difficult for respondents to read and can encourage poor survey response behavior, like straight-lining (where respondents select the same response for each item without careful consideration of each row) or randomly selecting responses.