Do Not Lead Respondents Toward Survey Answers

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Do not lead your respondents toward specific survey answers

When developing survey questions, be sure not to inadvertently lead respondents to answer a question in a particular way or in favor of a particular option. It is important to give respondents all available response options, however, the question and it’s options should not be worded in a way that influences a respondents’ answers.

Example of question that leads respondents:

Given the state of the economy, how likely are you to purchase a house in the next 12 months?

  • Definitely will
  • Probably will
  • Undecided
  • Probably will not
  • Definitely will not

The economy may be on the minds of many consumers; however, not all respondents are affected by the economy in the same way, and their decision to purchase real estate may not have any bearing on the state of the economy. It would be best to leave out the subject of the economy all together and simply ask, how likely are you to purchase a house in the next 12 months?

Additionally, use neutral or non-judgmental wording in questions and response options. And, whenever possible, do not ask questions that are sensitive in nature (i.e. health assessment, financial survey, employee satisfaction survey). If sensitive response options are necessary to achieve your survey objectives, consider asking them later in the survey. Asking sensitive questions too early may cause respondents to abandon the survey all together. If you plan to ask many sensitive questions, it may be wise to hire a third-party survey vendor to assist you with your research. Respondents feel more comfortable answering sensitive questions when conducted by a company that is impartial and responses are kept in complete confidentiality.

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