How To Write Unbiased Survey Questions

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The true value of a survey is to uncover accurate information of the participant based on their sentiments. Because of this, it’s important to have your questions accurately reflect that rather than containing a bias response.

If worded wrongly, your participant may be giving you false or even inaccurate information which leads to poor data collection.

Every marketer, UX designer, customer service respondent has probably used some kind of survey tool to collect information.

Here are some examples of biased survey questions you should avoid:

  1. How satisfied were you with our event?
  2. Studies show recently that students are concerned with employment. Are you concerned with your employment?
  3. Recently we received an award for an outstanding employer. Do you have any feedback that could help us achieve more?

On the surface, these questions may look normal but if you dig deeper, you can tell the question skews the respondent in one direction rather than staying neutral.

The first question uses more ‘positive’ language to instill for a more optimistic response. By using the word ‘satisfied’, it naturally forces the respondent to answer more positively.

The second question uses a statistic to enforce negative thoughts and then continues with a question that forces the respondent to reflect on the negative statistic and potentially answer in a more skewed tone.

The third question uses a real-life occurrence to instill positivity and attempts to gain more favorable feedback.

So how do I write unbiased survey questions?

Great that you asked!

One of the easiest ways to avoid this is simply using a scale of 1-10 or 1-5.

Let’s take a look at the first question again.

By using the scale, we can simply ask “On a scale of 1-5, how did you find our event?”

This places our tone in a more neutral voice and this allows the user to answer more truthfully without any potential influences within the question.

If you want more qualitative data, simply adding something like “please provide the reason why you gave <1-5> or “Do you have any feedback on our event?”

This provides a chance for the respondent to additionally provide qualitative responses.

Overall, the best ways to manage a more neutral tone is through either numbers and scales or at least neutral language.

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