Questionnaire Design

Please tell me whether you agree or disagree with the following statement: Acquiescence bias distorts survey data.

Answer: It sure does. And it’s far from alone.

There’s a world of danger in questionnaire design. As simple as it may seem in comparison with sampling methodology, question wording is the place where otherwise solid surveys too often run off the rails. If acquiescence bias or satisficing don’t get you, order, scale or mode effects can. There are framing, balancing, context, primacy and recency effects; the demands of proportionality and cognitive burden; and the distorting influence of plain old poor phrasing.

In brief, you get what you ask.

The interaction of question wording with cognition opens the door to manufactured data, produced not to understand attitudes and behavior independently but to promote a product or point of view. A few leading questions, hot-button phrases or distorted scales can do it. But misleading results are equally likely to be produced inadvertently, through questionnaires created by practitioners ill-informed in established best practices or too rushed to observe them.

We have a better way, grounded in our decades of experience and our principles of unbiased research, and informed by our close reading of the empirical literature. The result: questionnaires written, scaled and ordered to assess attitudes and behavior accurately and test their potential directions reliably.

Integrity in Research®