Purpose – Academic researchers love multi-category answer formats, especially five- and seven-point formats. More than a decade ago Josef Mazanec concluded that these formats may not the best choice, and that simple binary-answer options are preferable in some empirical survey contexts. The purpose of the present study is to investigate empirically Mazanec’s hypothesis in the context of the measurement of evaluative beliefs relating to fast-food restaurants.
Design/methodology/approach – The authors conducted an online experiment that asked respondents to assess evaluative beliefs relating to fast-food brands using either a forced binary (n = 100) or a seven-point answer format (n = 100). The authors also measured preferences for each of the fast-food restaurants, user friendliness, and recorded the actual completion times for the survey.
Findings – The results indicate that the full binary answer format outperforms the popular seven-point multi-category format with respect to stability, concurrent validity, and speed of completion.
Practical implications – Given the demonstrated strengths of full binary measures, they should be used more by both practitioners and academics when measuring evaluative beliefs.
Originality/value – This study provides empirical evidence of the strong performance of the forced binary-answer format for the measurement of evaluative beliefs, and thus challenges current measurement practice among academics and practitioners.