9 Ways your survey questionnaire could be leading respondents

leading survey questions

Remember, testing your survey questionnaire with a focus group is very important because many of the decisions you make after the survey is completed will depend a lot on the responses you receive. If your survey questions are not written well, your survey data could mislead your decisions.

Ask your survey copywriter to conduct a focus group. If you’re unable to afford a ‘formal’ focus group, gather some friends and their friends and host a focus group in a quiet place so you can take a good look at your questions.

No one wants to use misled data when deciding to launch a new product or increase prices. So I’ll leave you with some examples of misleading questions often found in surveys. See if any of your questions match these styles below.

NOTE that all the questions below are fictional and are being used for illustrative purposes only. They are structured based on real questions that I came across in real surveys. They all try to lead you into giving a positive answer, especially if you don’t really have an opinion.

1/ Name-dropping – this isn’t always in the form of a question but can often be a statement at the start or at the end of the survey. It could ‘accidentally’ mislead or cause respondents to quit the survey:

This survey is brought to you by <insert that company you ‘think’ people like>.

2/ Mentioning ‘why’ the survey is important (or what the company wants to achieve):

Are you willing to answer some questions to help us understand whether there’s a need to warn parents of the dangers of cough medicines?

3/ Inserting the desired answer into the question:

Don’t you agree that women won’t feel safe at night if the local council was to turn street lights off after midnight?

4/ Asking two questions in a row that can cause the respondent to doubt their own opinion:

Do you believe video games are making girls more violent?

Answer – Yes.

Since you have answered that ‘Yes’ video games are making girls more violent, shouldn’t girls be banned from playing video games?

5/ Using what the researcher believes to be ‘logic’:

Since the majority of ABC Company’s employees are university graduates, don’t you think they should be on higher pay rates?

6/ Making the respondent think this is how things should be:

Now that John Smith has been awarded five consecutive Top Truck Driver titles from 2009 to 2014, shouldn’t he be named ‘The Best Driver’?

7/ Disguising assertions to look like facts:

Since all shift workers in that street are complaining, shouldn’t all shift workers be given a guide on how to join forces with others to push the council to fine noisy neighbours?

8/ Adding only one side of the argument (or facts):

Since more and more students are being diagnosed with fatigue, shouldn’t schools stop giving them so much work?

9/ Inserting ‘common beliefs’ to make respondents answer ‘with their hearts’:

Do you think that the man should write a note to his neighbours to apologise for the pain he has caused them?

If you’re developing a survey and are not quite sure whether you’ve got things right,  get in touch today and we can discuss your requirements.

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